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WE record our obligation to Colonel Sir R. N. 
Chopra, C.I.E., I.M.S. (R) the Chairman of the 
Committee on Indigenous Systems of Medicine, 
Government of India (Ministry of Health), for the 
permission given us to have this memorandum on 
" Science and Art of Indian Medicine ” presented to 
the Committee by Dr. G. Srinivasa Murti, published 
by us for sale to the public. 



(A Memorandum first prepared for the Madras 
Government Committee on the Indigenous 
Systems of Medicine and published 
by them in 1923) 

Abridged, revised and edited in July 1948 for 

The Committee on the Indigenous Systems 
of Medicine, Government of India 




Director, Adyar Library, The Theosophical Society 




H. E. Sri C. Rajagopalachari, Governor 
of West Bengal and Governor-General - 
designate, was given a farewell ovation by 
members of the Bangiya Ayurveda Maha- 
sabha at Government House, Calcutta, 
to-day, (17-6-48). 

Replying to their address, Mr. Rajagopala- 
chari referred to the ** superstition and 
prejudice even among the modern medical 
practitioners and said : 

" Truth and Science are one. There can 
be no competition between truth and truth, 
but only between truth and error. I would, 
therefore, entreat you to remember three 
things^ one is to demand and not to oppose 
high standard of education and equipment 
and careful selection in admitting students to 
your colleges for courses in medicine. The 
other is to include modem scientific know- 
ledge alongside of our traditional Ayurveda 
in your institutions so that Truth may run 
in a single course and prejudice and ignorance 
vanish to the minimum point. Thirdly, 
scientific research should be encouraged and 
there should be no opposition but full co- 
operation in this between the Western 
doctors and the learned Kabirajas. 

—A. P. I. (“The Hindu”, 19th June 1948) 





The Thesis 


The Ayurveda, the Siddha and the Unani — Their 
Mutual Relationship . 4 

The Essentials of Western Scientific Method . 6 

Comparison with the Hindu Scientific Method . 10 

The Limitations of all Scientific Methods 18 

Tests of a Valid Hypothesis according to Western 
and Hindu Scientists . .23 

Methods of Ayurveda strictly Scientific 25 

The Authority of Scriptures . . .26 

“Ayurveda ‘Mixes up' Science, Philosophy and 

" ... 35 

Scientific Validity of the Hypothesis of 
Darshanas ... 42 

The Need to Learn the exact Meaning of Techni- 
cal Terms . ,51 

The Panchabhuta Theory . .52 

A Queer Demand .56 

Theories of Matter according to Modern Western 
and Ancient Indian Sciences compared . 62 



The Genesis of Atoms — The Vedantic View . 68 

M The Samkhya View . . * 71 

,, Comparison with the Modern Western 

View . . . .72 

Presentation of Ancient Wisdom in. the Language 
of Modern Science . . . .80 

A Note of Warning . . . .84 


The Thridhatu Siddhanta . . * 87 

Functions of the Three Dhatus . . .88 

The Gunas . . . .91 

Nature of Thridhatus . . . .100 

Prakriti (Temperament) . . . .108 

Metabolism and the Seven Dhatus . .111 

Prana and Marma . . , .116 

Ayurvedic Anatomy . . . .119 


Etiology . . . . .123 

Ayurvedic Etiology . . .125 

Allopathic Etiology . . .131 

Comparison of Ayurvedic and Allopathic Etiology. 133 
Nija and Aganthu Causes and Diseases . .134 

Ayurvedic Pathology . . . .135 

The Germ Theory of Disease — The Seed and the 
Soil . . . . ,136 


Importance of Study . , . .143 

Dravya-Rasa-Veerya - Vipaka • Prabhava Pharma- 
cology . . . . .144 




" Examination by the Senses and Interrogation " . 150 

Ashtasthana Pareeksha — The Eight Special 
Examinations . . . .152 

Nidana Panchakam — Five-fold investigation of 
Disease . . * 1 54 


Categories of Treatment .157 

The General Principles of Treatment — Treatment to 
be based on accurate Diagnosis and Prognosis . 161 

Samsodhana and Samshamana Treatment . 162 

Panchakarma or five Methods of Samsodhana 
Treatment . . . . .162 


The Past and the Present . . .165 

Nutrition, Sick-Dieting and Domestic Medicine . 169 

Health-Education and Health-Culture . .172 

Is Ayurveda Self-sufficient at present? . .181 

The Short-Range Objective — Transition to the 
Synthesis of Indian and Western Medicine . 183 

The Long-Range or Ultimate Objective -—The 
Synthesis of Indian and Western Medicine into 
a Unified and Integrated Whole . ,184 

The Universal Brotherhood of Healers . .186 

Organisation of Medical Research . .187 

Clinical Research . . . .190 

Pharmocologicai Research . . .192 

Research in latro-Chemistry . .193 

The Physician of the Future . . 194 


MANY and varied have been the objections that 
have been raised, from time to time, against the 
recognition and encouragement by the State of the 
indigenous systems of medicine like the Ayurveda, the 
Siddha and the Unani ; these objections have always 
been challenged by exponents of these systems as 
well as by others interested in their promotion ; the 
resulting controversy has sometimes been mild and 
sometimes wild ; some of the objections are trivial 
while others are vital ; and round none has the fire 
of controversy raged so fiercely as on the central 
question whether these Indian systems of medicine 
are scientific or not. The object of this memorandum 
is to view things from a scientific standpoint and 
stimulate scientific discussion on a subject which, it is 
clear, can now be neither ignored nor shelved. 

It is perhaps just as well that I state at the very 
outset the conclusions, which I have formed from 
such study of the Indian systems as I have been able 


to make, so that it may be known beforehand what 
it is that i am striving to elaborate in this Memoran- 
dum. I have studied these systems from the two 
standpoints from which every system of medicine has 
to be judged, viz., (1) as a Science and (2) as an 
Art ; and my conclusions may be briefly summed up 
as under : 

(1) As a Science . — The Indian systems are un- 
doubtedly scientific ; their general principles and 
theories (both in subjects of preliminary scientific 
study like Physics, Physiology and the like, as also in 
the subjects of Medical Science proper, like Pathology, 
Medicine and so on) are quite rational and scientific. 

(2) As an Art . — As practised at present, Indian 
systems are not self-sufficient. If we divide Medical 
Science broadly into two sections, viz.. Medicine and 
Surgery, the Indian systems are, in the main, self- 
sufficient and efficient in Medicine, while in Surgery 
they are not. 

In both Science and Art, there are points which 
Indian and European systems can well learn from each 
other with immense profit to both ; that they may so 
fraternise and learn is a consummation devoutly to 
be wished, not only in the best interests of science 
but also of what is even more important than science 
itself, viz., suffering humanity. 


Such is my thesis, which I now proceed to develop, 
under the following headings : 

(1) Scientific methodology. — Pratyaksha and 

(2) Subjects of preliminary scientific study — the 
, Panchabhuta Theory. 

(3) Physiology and Anatomy — the Thri-dhatu 

(4) Etiology and Pathology — the Thri-dosha 

(5) Pharmacology — ^the Rasa-Guna-Veerya- 

Vipaka-Prabhava Theory. 

(6) Diagnosis and treatment — Application of 
Thridosha Theory. 

( 7 ) Indian systems judged from the standpoint 
of Art. 




AS stated at the outset, it is round the question 
whether or not the Indian systems have any scientific 
methodology at all that there has been a good deal 
of controversy. If we are to return any precise 
and definite answer to this question, we must first be 
clear as to what we exactly mean by “ science " 
and " scientific method ” ; for, in .the past, a good 
deal of confusion has been caused by failure to 
settle this preliminary point, and discussions have 
been carried on with little mutual understanding 
on the part of the controversialists. Hence it 
becomes necessary to enquire whether the European 
and the Indian methods of investigation have any 
common foundations or criteria of belief, to which 
both of them can appeal to test the validity of any 
fact or proposition that is at issue ; to this end, I pro- 
pose first to lay down in broad outlines the essentials 


of scientific method as pursued by both the Western 
and the Hindu scientists, and then proceed to show 
that both have common foundations and a common 
platform where both can profitably meet and team 
from each other. 

Regarding the methodology followed in the Unani 
system, 1 regret 1 cannot speak from first-hand know- 
ledge, for I know neither Arabic nor Persian nor even 
Urdu, and it would be unwise in so important a matter 
to rely solely on translations. I have, however, the 
high authority of the renowned Janab Hakim Ajmal 
Khan Bahadur of Delhi to say that Arabian medicine 
was founded on Ayurveda.^ As regards the Siddha 
system, its fundamental bases such as the Thri-dhatu 
Physiology and the Thri-dosha Pathology are common 
ground between it and Ayurveda. Hence it is sub- 
mitted that though in the following discussion of the 
scientific bases and methodology of the Indian sys^ 
terns, it is Ayurveda that is mostly referred to, yet 
we may take it that, so far as the present topic 
is concerned, . what applies to Ayurveda applies 
generally to the Siddha and the Unani systems 
as well. ' 

^ Vide the publication entitled The Scheme of the 
Ayurvedic and Unani Tibbi College, Delhi ", and Appendix A 
attached thereto. 



Some people are in the habit of talking of the 
scientific method as though it were extraordinarily 
recondite, knowable only to the elect and the very 
high in intellect. While this is certainly true of the 
higher reaches of science, yet there is nothing extra- 
ordinarily mystic about the general conception of the 
scientific method which even the novice cannot appre- 
ciate if he wants to ; its essentia! characteristic is a 
particular intellectual attitude towards any problem 
that may come up for solution, whether it be a 
problem in mathematics, physics, economics, aesthetics, 
education, law, medicine, engineering, state-craft, 
handicraft, or any other branch of knowledge. Many 
people in the world may be applying the scientific 
method in their daily round of duty without their being 
aware of it. We may get a good lesson in scientific 
method from a business man meeting some new 
practical problem, from a lawyer sifting evidence or 
from a statesman framing a constructive bill/' ^ The 
man who classifies facts of any kind whatever, who 
sees their mutual relations and describes their 
sequences is applying the scientific method and is 

^ Introduction to Science, by Thompson — Home University 
Library, page 58. 


a man of science/' ^ What science derr^ands from 
its votaries is a severe discipline in the habitual use 
of the keen eye, the sharpened intellect and the 
trained mind. The all-observing keen eye of the 
scientist helps him to observe widely, and collect 
together as many facts as he can gather. This is 
often a very laborious process. The sharpened in- 
tellect, playing upon the facts so gathered, carefully 
analyses and catalogues them under certain categories. 
These categories, viewed from a synthetic standpoint, 
suggest certain generalizations which include all the 
facts or phenomena so far observed. The trained mind 
brooding upon these generalizations evolves a hypo- 
thesis, or may be, more than one hypothesis, in ex- 
planation of, and based on, these observed facts 
or phenomena. Now, every such hypothesis is merely 
a claim waiting to be verified ; but the claim may 
or may not be accepted. Experiments are under- 
taken to test the validity of these hypotheses. All 
those which are not verified or found valid by experi- 
ments are rejected. That hypothesis alone which is 
shown by experiment to work best, becomes the 
accepted theory, which, be it noted, is nothing more 
than the best working hypothesis, among perhaps 

^ Grammar of Science by Karl Pearson (3rd edition), Part I, 
page 12. 


several that may have been advanced ; moreover, its 
acceptance is merely tentative or provisional, con- 
tingent not only on the continued occurrence of 
verificatory phenomena but also on similar non -occur- 
rence of contrary ones ; for, there is really no finality 
in science ; and the scientific method is essentially a 
hypothetical or experimental method of trial and error. 

It treats ail 'facts * as data to be tested, all ' princi- 
ples * as working hypothesis to be confirmed, all 
' truths ' as claims to be verified. All allegations, 
therefore, must be tested, and are valued according 
to the scientific consequences to which they lead. 
In all this, a vivid imagination is a most precious 
gift provided it is strictly controlled by rigid logic 
and crucial experimentation. At the outset, there- 
fore, scientific method is content with provisional con- 
clusions that are not greatly trusted ; and to the end, 
it is recognized that the human mind does not respond 
to the infinite gradations of logical probability, but 
declares itself satisfied and certain, as soon as the 
evidence for a- belief seems to it adequate. After 
that, the question is humanly settled unless and until 
something occurs to reopen it. For there is no 
absolute chose jugee in science." ^ Science then is 

^ Professor Schiller in Psychic Research Quarterly-^ 
Volume 1, pages 12-13. 


merely ' criticized, systematised and generalized 
knowledge ; that is to. say, the student of science 
takes more pains than the man in the street does to 
get at the facts ; he is not content with sporadic 
knowledge, but will have as large a body of facts as 
he can get ; he systematizes these data and his in* 
ference from them, and sums up in a generalization 
or formula. In all this, he observes certain logical 
processes, certain orders of inference, and we cal! 
this, the scientific method 

** Of such modes of inference there are no 
more than there were in the days of Aristotle, who 
recognized three : (a) from particular to particular 
(analogical reasoning), (fa) from particular to gen- 
eral (inductive reasoning), (c) from genera! to 
particular (deductive reasoning). Let us take a few 

(a) ** Analogical Reasoning . — The geologist tells us 
the story of the making of the earth and describes 
what happened millions of years ago, and in many 
cases he relies on analogical reasoning. 

(fa) " Inductive Reasoning . — This is argument from 
particulars to the universal, and science is full of 
illustrations. Galileo had smooth inclined planes made 
and then, by rolling balls down them and measuring 
the time and squares of descent, he discovered 


inductively that the space fallen is always as the square 
or the time of falling/' . .. . 

The inductive method may almost be called 
Baconian ; for Bacon was the first to show that the 
sound way of studying Nature was to work up from 
particulars to principles. He called his method the 
' new instrument ’ — the Novum Organum. it was 
founded on the principle that things, which are always 
present, absent, or varying together, are causally 

(c) ** Deductive Reasoning . — This is argument from 
the universal to particulars, the kind of inference 
which enables the long arm of science to reach, back 
through the ages that are past, and forward into those 
which are to come. By deductions, Neptune was 
discovered before it was seen. By deduction, given 
three good observations of a passing comet, we can 
predict its return to a night." ^ 


According to Hindu Methodologists, the process 
of * ascertainment of truth * depends on the correct 
understanding of our sources of valid knowledge 

' Introduction to Science, by Thompson — Home University 
Library, pages 58-61. 


{Le,, pramanas or proofs) which are as follows: 

(1) Prathyaksha or direct observation and perception, 

(2) Anumana or logical inferential reasoning of the 
nature of induction and deduction and (3) Shabda 
(Apthavachanam) or competent testimony of 
" knowers of the Vedas,’ or the revealed scripture- 

[This is according to the Samkhya school of thought. 
It is only right to add that the Nyaya (logic) adds a 
fourth source of valid knowledge, namely, Upamana 
{or analogy or comparison), while the Mimamsa 
,(exegetics) has two more still, namely, Arthapatthi 
and Abhava (Presumption and Privation) ; but, I pro- 
ceed here on the view that the threefold Samkhya 
division includes, in itself, both the fourfold Nyaya and 
sixfold Mimamsa divisions.] 

If we now compare the inductive (Baconian) and 
deductive methods of the West with the scientific 
method of Anumana, as practised by the Hindus, we 
find a striking similarity ; for, what is Anumana ? 

Anumana (Inference) is the process of ascertaining, 
not by perception or direct observation, but through 
the instrumentality or medium of a mark, that a thing 
possesses a certain character. Inference is therefore 
based on the establishment of an invariable con- 
comitance (Vyapti) between the mark and the 


character inferred/'^ But how is this Vyapti (or 
invariable concomitance) to be ascertained? This is 
done exactly as it is done by Western scientists* that 
is to say. by means of observations and experiments, 
thoroughly checked and tested by the canons of strict 
scientific Logic. ** The observation of agreement in 
presence (Anvaya) as well as agreement in absence 
(Vyatireka) between two phenomena, with the non- 
observation of the contrary (Vyabhicharadarshanam) is 
the foundation of our knowledge of Vyapti. Obviously, 
mere observation of their agreement in presence and 
their agreement in absence is no help in the matter. 
Take a concrete example. The ass is customarily 
employed to bring the fuel with which fire is lighted. 
In a hundred cases you have observed the ass 
among the antecedents of smoke. In a hundred 
cases you may have observed that when there is no 
ass there is no smoke. This is no warrant for 
concluding a relation of cause and effect between an 
ass and smoke. It may be that you happen to have 
never observed smoke without an antecedent ass, or 
an ass without smoke following. Even this is of no 
avail. It is not agreement (unbroken and uniform 
though it be) in presence or in absence, or in both, 

^ The Positive Sciences of the Hindus by Seal (1915 edition) 
page 250. 


that can settle the matter. There is one and only one 
way of ascertaining the causal relation. Suppose A with 
certain accompaniments is found to precede B im- 
mediately. Now, if A disappearing, B disappears, even 
though all other antecedents remain and there is no 
other change in the case, then and then only can 
the causal relation be ascertained. But this does not 
establish the unconditionality of the concomitance 
which is essential to a Vyapti. We, have, therefore, 
to examine the cases carefully to see if there is any 
determining condition (Upadhi, /.e., some hidden or 
undetected but really operative or indispensable 
accompaniment) which conditions the relation between 
the supposed sign or mark (Gamaka) and the sup- 
posed signate (thing signified, Gamya) . . . Every 
one of the accompanying circumstances (of course 
the likely ones) hnay be taken successively, and it 
may be shown that the concomitance continues even 
when the suspected Upadhi (Shankitopadhi) is absent, 
and therefore it cannot be the Upadhi. And this is 
to be fortified by the observation of uniform and 
interrupted agreement in absence (Vyatireka) between 
the two concomitant phenomena. In this way, when 
we have disproved all suspected Upadhis, we 
conclude by establishing the Vyapti. It is true that 
we may still go on doubting ; but doubt has a 


certain limit for the * experimenter ' and the thinking 
person (Pareekshaka, Prekshavan). When doubt 
overthrows the foundation of all rational practice or 
leads to a stoppage or arrest of all practical activity, 
it stands ipso facto condemned, and must be aban- 
doned. Thus it is that Vyapti is ascertained. In this 
way we observe innumerable instances of Vyapti. 
Now, by means of repeated observations of this kind 
(Bhuyo Darshana) we have established the principle 
of the Uniformity of Nature (Svabhavapratibandha) 
and also of causality (Karyakaranabhava) ; and these 
two principles thus ascertained may be made use 
of in their turn as the basis of an argumentation or 
deduction (Tarka, Uha) to confirm a particular Vyapti 
in a particular case. Tarka or Uha, then, is the verifica- 
tion and vindication of particular inductions by the 
application of the general principles of Uniformity of 
Nature and of Causality, principles which are them- 
selves based on repeated observation and the ascer- 
tainment of innumerable particular inductions of 
uniformity or causality. Thus Tarka also helps in 
dispelling doubt." ^ Students of Western scientific 
methods cannot fail to notice the close resemblance 
between the above methods and those designated by 

^ The Positive Sciences of the Hindus, by Seal (1915 
edition), pages 256-57, 276-77, 


Mill as * The Joint Method ' and ' The Method of 
Residues'; if, further, we consider also Mill's 
" Methods of Concomitant Variations ' and compare 
the Western Method with what the Hindus call the 
" Panchakarni ’, the resemblances become even more 
striking ; the Panchakarani is illustrated thus : The 
following changes being observed, everything else 
remaining constant, the relation of cause and effect 
is rigorously established. First step — the ‘ cause ' and 
the * effect ' phenomena are both unperceived. 
Second step — then the ' cause ' phenomenon is 
perceived. Third step — then, in immediate succes- 
sion, the * effect ' ‘ phenomenon ' is perceived. 
Fourth step — then the * cause ' phenomenon is 
sublated or disappears. Fifth step — then, in im- 
mediate succession, the * effect ' phenomenon dis- 
appears. Throughout, of course, it is assumed that 
the other circumstances remain the same (at least 
the relevant or material circumstances)." ^ The 
student of the Physical Sciences cannot fail to 
notice its general resemblance to the Baconian 
inductive principle that, if things are, in experience, 
found to be present, absent or varying together, they 
are, in all probability, causally connected ; only, what 

^ T/ie Positive Sciences of the Hindus, by Seal (1915 
edition), pages 258-59. 


the one following Mill, would call ‘ the Law of 
Agreement, difference and concomitant variation,' 
the other would call the Panchakarani, because the 
conclusion is reached by Pancha (or five) steps. 
'' This Panchakarani, the Joint Method of difference, 
has some advantages over J, S. Mill's method of 
difference, or what is identical therewith, the earlier 
Buddhist Method ; and the form of the canon, 
bringing out in prominent relief the unconditionality 
and the immediateness of the antecedence, is as 
superior from a theoretical point of view to J, S. Mill's 
canon, and is as much more consonant than the 
latter, to the practice of every experimenter, as the 
Hindu analysis of Anumana as a Formal-Material 
Deductive-Inductive inference is more comprehensive 
and more scientific than Aristotle’s or Mill's Analysis 
of the Syllogism (or mediate inference) ; for the 
Hindu inference (Anumana) is neither merely 
formal nor merely material, but a combined 
Formal-Material Deductive- Inductive process. It is 
neither the Aristotelian Syllogism (Formal-Deduc- 
tive process), nor' Mill's induction (Material-Inductive 
process), but the real inference which must combine 
formal validity with material truth, inductive generali- 
zation with Deductive particularization.” ^ Such then 

^ The Positive Sciences of the Hindus, by Seal pages 290- 1 • 


is the Hindu scientific method. 1 see much of 
common ground between the two systems of scientific 
methodology. The Hindu method of Pratyaksha (or 
direct perception) has its analogue in the obser- 
vational method of our Western brethren ; so too, 
as has been discussed before, the method of Anumana 
has its analogue in the Western methods of Logical 
Inferential Reasoning of the Nature of Analogy, 
Deduction and Induction (Baconian Method). He 
who goes through the works of the master-minds 
among both Eastern and Western scientists finds that 
there is a striking resemblance in their intellectual 
attitude towards problems that presented themselves 
before them ; it is an attitude characterized by 
accurate observation (Darshana and Bhuyodarshana), 
precise description^ correct classification, patient ex- 
perimentation (Pareeksha), rigid reasoning (Yukti 
Yuktam), careful verification (Nirnaya), institution, 
where necessary, of crucial tests (Vinigamaka), and, 
above ail, that supreme faculty of analytico-synthetical 
imagination (Buddhi) that can see the one connect- 
ing law running through the whole range of a mass of 
apparently unconnected phenomena and enable the 
Newtons of all times to take their gigantic leaps * from 
the falling apple to the falling moon.' "An isolated 
fact," says Henri Poincare, " can be observed by 


all eyes — by those of the ordinary person as well as of 
the wise. But it is the true physicist alone who may 
see the bond which unites several facts among which 
the relationship is made, though obscure. The story 
of Newton’s apple is probably not true. But it is 
symbolical. So, let us think of it as true. Well, we 
must believe that many before Newton had seen apples 
fall, but they made no deduction. Facts are sterile 
until there are minds capable of choosing between them 
and discerning those which conceal something and re- 
cognizing that which is concealed — minds which, under 
the bare fact, see the ‘ soul ’ of the fact.” Now the 
methods by which thinkers, both in the East and in the 
West, have tried to see, ‘ under the bare fact, the soul 
of the fact ’ are fundamentally similar, although one 
calls it by the name of Anumana, while the other labels 
it as the method of Deduction and Induction (Baconian) ; 
that is only a difference in. name — not in essence. 


Then again there is fundamental agreement as 
regards the essential limitations of these scientific 
methods; both agree that Prathyaksha (or direct 
observations and appearances) frequently deceive us. 
The use of such a term like the ‘ ultra -microscopic ’, 


for example, must remind us that the range of our 
senses is distinctly limited, even when aided by in- 
struments of marvellous power and precision. We 
have " light ’ whose brightness is too high for the 
range of perception of our eye. So in the midst 
of the most intense ' light we may be in utter 
darkness. We have ' sounds ’ whose vibrations are 
beyond the range of perception of our ear ; and so, 
in the midst of the most powerful ' sounds ' we may 
be stone-deaf It is therefore a well-recognized fact, 
both in the East and the West, that, for the ascertain- 
ment of truth, direct perception does not take us 
very far. Hence, people have everywhere turned to 
experimental and hypothetical methods of logical 
inferential reasoning, with a view to add to, or correct 
the knowledge gained by, direct perception. Thus, 
the sense-impressions regarding the fixity of the earth 
and the movement of the sun round it are corrected 
by an elaborate process of reasoning which leads to 
the conclusion that it is really the sun that is relatively 
fixed and the earth that moves round it ; so too, the 
very familiar optical illusions of our every-day life, 
such as the apparent increase in the size of the sun 
and the moon when at the horizon than when at the 
zenith, the apparent rising and setting of the stars, 
and such other phenomena, are other instances of 


how the senses deceive us, and how often things are 
not really what they seem. Both are also agreed that 
all the three scientific methods so far discussed, Wz., 
Analogy, Induction and Deduction are themselves not 
free from possible errors. The method of analogy 
that has done so much to illumine many dark abysses,, 
specially in Geology and Biology, may be vitiated by 
some vital differences between the two sets of con- 
ditions compared. ** Logical inferential reasoning, in 
both its aspects (induction and deduction) can never 
get rid of doubt as to the absolute truth and sound- 
ness of its conclusions, as the late Lord Balfour showed 
in his Defence of Philosophical Doubt, Deduction 
depends on the validity of its premises, axioms, 
and postulates, and on the perfect subtleness and 
strength of the reasoning powers. Induction, unless 
we have an infinite number of facts and “ an 
infinite mental capacity to comprehend all such facts, 
cannot also give us the exact truth. An inductive 
conclusion, though based on a million instances, 
becomes wrong if one single instance to the contrary 
is clearly proved to exist, and a higher law which 
would explain and include the single contrary instance 
also has to be searched for.'' 

It is essential that these limitations of the scientific 
method must be specially emphasized, as extravagant 


expectations still continue to be entertained regarding 
its possible achievements ; and that, not only by the 
public at large, but, as was pointed out by Prof. 
Schiller, by professed logicians also. The public 
still believes'", he says, '‘that mathematical demon- 
stration is the ne plus ultra of cogency, though 
modern mathematicians are under no such illusion. 
They understand that it has only the hypothetical 
certainty of a coherent system of assumptions and 
the practical value of a well-chosen one Different 
minds are differently constituted, some being in- 
fluenced more by the first of these two considerations,- 
while others are more influenced by the second. To 
some people — the Pragmatists, for example — ^the 
most satisfactory testimony for truth is not so much 
its logical consistency, as its utility and practical 
application to reality, ' Truth is what works ' is 
their great manthram. To some minds, however, the 
most satisfactory testimony for truth is its logical 
consistency ; they accept that proposition as the best, 
which, to them, has the logical certainty of a coherent 
systenr^ of assumptions. This will perhaps explain in 
some measure why, ever since the dawn of history, 
there have been sects in medicine as in every other 
science and there have been bitter quarrels among 
^ Psychic Research Quarterly, Volume I, page 9. 


them. The quarrels of doctors ", says Osier, make 
a pretty chapter in the history of medicine. Each 
generation seems to have had its own. The Coans 
and the Cnidians, the Arabians and the Galenists, 
the Brunonians and Broussonians, the Homeopaths and 
the Regulars, have in different centuries rent the robe 
of i€sculapius." Can we not do better than add one 
more quarrel to this dismal list ? Wherever knowledge 
is imperfect, as it undoubtedly is in medicine, differ 
ences of views are inevitable. But they need not 
result in unworthy disputations among those whose 
one common aim is the eternal quest of truth. We 
have seen how strong the resemblances are between 
the modern Western scientific methods based on 
Baconian Induction and Deduction, and the ancient 
Hindu methods of Pratyaksha and Anumana, such 
as Vyaptigraha and Panchakarani ; we have also 
seen that both agree in their recognition of the 
essential limitations of the scientific method, and 
in thinking that, not only the senses and the intellect 
may deceive us, but that even reasoning may lead us 
astray ; for, given a sufficiently robust will-to-believe, 
one can always find reasons to continue to believe 
what he wants to believe, unaffected by any 
reasoning ; faced thus with the problem of judging 
and choosing rightly, among a number of contending 


alternatives or hypotheses, both have come to very 
nearly the same conclusion and it is this. — There is 
no finality either about our premises or our conclusions ^ 
all that we can^ do is to test each hypothesis with 
the greatest possible care and accept that which 
explains best and works best, or explains better or 
works better, than any other. Hence it is that, 
both in the East and in the West, the tests of a 
valid hypothesis are extremely rigid and stringent. 
To illustrate my point, I cannot perhaps do better than 
compare the various tests of a valid hypothesis as laid 
down by both Western and Eastern Scientists. 


The tests are as under : — A good hypothesis 
must allow of the application of deductive reasoning 
and the inference of consequences capable of com- 
parison with the results of observation. A good 
hypothesis must not conflict with any laws of nature 
which we hold to be true. In a good hypothesis, the 
consequences inferred must agree with the facts of 
observation. It often happens that two (or even 
more) hypotheses have been put forward in possible 
explanation of phenomena, and owing, perhaps, to 


both agreeing with a large number of experimental 
facts, it may be exceedingly difficult to choose be- 
tween them. Obviously, both cannot be correct ; 
both may be wrong ; one must be wrong. How are 
we to decide ? We require a new experiment which 
shall give results agreeing with one hypothesis, but 
not with the other. Such an experiment which decides 
between two rival hypotheses is called an Experl- 
mentum Crucis, A crucial experiment confirms one 
hypothesis, but rejects the other." (Scientific Method 
by Professor Westaway, pages 245-246.) Compare 
the close agreement between this and the tests of 
a legitimate hypothesis (Kalpana) as laid down by 
Hindu Scientists : — ** A legitimate hypothesis must 
satisfy the following conditions: — (1) the hypothesis 
must explain the facts ; (2) the hypothesis must not 
be in conflict with any observed facts or established 
generalizations (Jayanta, Jayamanjari, Ahnika 1) ; (3) 
no unobserved agent must be assumed where it is 
possible to explain the facts satisfactorily by observed 
agencies (Ibid.) ; (4) when two rival hypotheses are 
in the field, a crucial fact or test (Vinigamaka, ratio 
sufficiens) is necessary ; the absence of such a test 
is fatal to the establishment of either ; (5) of two 
rival hypotheses, the simpler, /.e., that which assumes 
less, is to be preferred, ceteris paribus (Kalpanalaghava 


versus Kalpanagowrava) ; (6) of two rival hypotheses, 
that which is immediate or relevant to the subject- 
matter is to be preferred to that which is alien or 
remote ; (7 j a hypothesis that satisfies the above 
conditions must be capable of verification (Nirnaya) 
before it can be established as a theory." ^ 


It is as a result of such comparative study as I have 
attempted to indicate above, that I find myself in a 
position to give my whole-hearted assent to the 
opinion of that erudite scholar, Brajendranath Seal, 
who, in his monumental work The Positive Sciences of 
the Ancient Hindus expresses himself thus, in respect 
of the question under discussion : — What is charac- 
teristic of the Hindu scientific mind is that, without 
being content with the general concepts of Science 
and a general methodology, it elaborated the funda- 
mental categories and concepts of such of the special 
sciences as it cultivated with assiduity, and systematically 
adapted the general principles of scientific method 
to the requirements of the subject-matter in each 
case. The most signal example of applied logic 
(or scientific method) worked out with systematic 

^ Positive Sciences of the Hindus, by B. N. Seal, page 288. 


carefulness is the Logic of Therapeutics in Charaka, 
Logic which adapts the general concepts of cause, 
effect, energy, operation, etc., and the general 
methodology of science to the special problems 
presented in the study of diseases, their causes, 
symptoms and remedies." 


It* is objected that though the ancient system 
reached the height of a systematizing, theorizing 
school of thought, it lacked the freedom of individual 
action, essential to the pursuit of real science, and its 
evolution was prematurely arrested by an unscientific 
veneration for petrified dogmas." ^ No one who 
has not entered into the very soul of Hindu thought 
can appreciate what scriptural authority really means 
to the Hindu, and how two persons, paying the 
profoundest possible veneration to the same scriptural 
texts can yet interpret them in ways as diverse as 
the poles ; a classical example that readily occurs to 
my mind is how all schools of Vedanta — from un- 
compromising duality (Dwaita) to absolute non-duality 
(Adwaita) purport to be based on the same Vedic 

‘ Report of the Calcutta UniversitylCommission — Vol. V, 
pages 57-58. 


texts. The fact of the matter seems to me to be 
that, alike in Hindu Science, Philosophy and Religion, 
the amount of freedom of individual action and 
thought was practically unrestricted, in spite of the 
theoretical finality of scriptural " authority ' ; true, 
the Vedas were venerated by all as of paramount 
authority ; but, they denoted the eternal wisdom 
behind the texts than the spoken or written texts 
themselves, which were but the symbols for conveying 
that wisdom to human minds ; hence, the nature and 
extent of the knowledge conveyed by the texts to 
any individual, depended upon the receptive capacity 
of the individual himself, just as, by one and the same 
piece of poetry or music, one individual may be sent 
to profound sleep, and another to ecstatic rapture. 
So it was that the Vedic texts conveyed different 
philosophical messages to different types of individual 
minds ; in some, the chord of Samkhya was struck, in 
others, that of Yoga, and in yet others, that of 
Vedanta, and so on. So too in Religion the same 
texts serve as the one common Gospel of those 
diverse religious faiths that are all included in that 
one all-embracing Religion known as Hinduism ; 
Science too is no exception to this rule ; here, as 
elsewhere, that same symbol of Eternal Truth, variously 
called the Vedas, the Agamas, etc., is laid down as' 


the final court of appeal ; the atomic theory of the 
Visheshika may differ from that of the Vedantin ; 
but, each is an attempt — and a perfectly legitimate 
attempt — to interpret Truth exactly as each sees it ; 
and who knows that all apparently different views are 
not merely so many different aspects, each true from 
its own angle of vision, and each contributing its 
own complement to the composite picture of Reality, 
much as certain microscopic individuals confined to 
the region of one or other of the spectral rays 
refracted by a prism may truly describe the parent 
ray, as each sees it, as red, blue, yellow, etc., while 
Reality is ail this and much more ? However this 
may be, Vedas, to the Hindu, means the Eternal 
Truth ; and loyalty to the Vedas no more restricts 
the freedom of action and thought of the Hindu 
thinkers than loyalty to Truth restricts the similar 
freedom of others. Whenever a thinker feels that 
the interpretation given by another to Vedic text is 
not correct or is opposed to experience, he does 
not in the least hesitate to say so ; as a matter of 
fact, with some thinkers, such opportunities of demo- 
lishing another's view are never lost ; and the 
demolition is done with such an obvious relish and 
piquant zest as to make it appear as though this was 
'a pleasant pastime, loved for its own sake. Of 


course, no orthodox pandit would admit that the 
Vedas could be in error, any more than any one else 
could admit that truth was in error ; all that he 
claimed to do was that previous commentaries and 
interpretations of the texts were wrong and that his 
commentary was more in conformity with the truth 
of the texts than any other ; in other words, differ- 
ences of views were expressed through commentaries 
of the texts and not by altering the texts themselves. 
Considering how easy it was for every dissentient 
voice to quote scriptures in its support, it does not 
appear to me that the tacit recognition of the scriptures 
as the Eternal Truth has hampered the freedom of 
action and thought, among Hindu thinkers ; to them, 
* the authority of Scriptures ’ holds, more or less the 
same position as * Truth * to others ; when the latter 
differ among themselves, they do so in the name of 
that one and the same * Truth * the quest of which is 
the common goal of all. The case is very similar 
with Hindu thinkers ; when they differ, as they 
frequently do, all appeal to and speak in the name of 
one and the same supreme authority, v/z., * Scriptural 
knowledge which, to them, is the same as Eternal 
Truth. The differences arise because Hindu thinkers 
differ in their interpretation of ' Scriptural knowledge ' 
just as much as, or even more than, Western 


thinkers, in their interpretation of * Truth ' or 
' Reality \ 

Considered in this light, it is easy to see that what 
the Hindus call ^ Shabda Pramanam ' is worlds apart 
from any blind ^Veneration for petrified dogmas’* 
Veneration, undoubtedly there is, and in abundance ; 
but, it is for the words of Apthas or Masters of 
Wisdom and not for the dogmas of others — much 
the same sort of veneration that a tyro in Physics 
cannot help showing to the authority of such a 
master as a Bose or a Thomson or a Raman. The 
previous records of these master-minds in contacting 
and sensing Truth are so rich and ours so poor, that 
we willingly accept their guidance ; and it is well 
that we do so ; it is well that reverence for wisdom 
should ever dwell in us, and grow from more to 
more, as more and more of knowledge is vouchsafed 
to us. It seems to me that the strong objections 
which Western Scientists have held against the Hindu 
Shabda Praman is due to its being the subject of 
a very unfortunate mistranslation as ^ authority \ 
Now, the word ‘ authority ’ to Western minds is an 
anathema ; to them, it is reminiscent of that dark 
period when * authority ’ would accuse even a Pope 
of having commerce with the devil if he ventured to 
use a novel instrument like the compass. In their 


minds, ^ authority * conjures up visions of those days 
when the sterilizing torch of ' authority ’ sought to 
burn away the tender seed of Science which Galileo 
planted at the risk of his life ; and naturally enough, 
when they talk of 'authority', it is as though it 
were in eternal conflict with what we call ' Reason 
The sort of ' authority ' that is depicted here is 
poles apart from the sort of ' authority ' which the 
Hindu Shabda Praman denotes. Nowhere perhaps is 
the tyranny of mistranslations more in evidence than 
in such cases where a word denoting a willing acquie- 
scence in the authority of the words of those experts 
who are masters of knowledge and wisdom, is 
construed to mean an unmeaning ' veneration for 
petrified dogmas Here in India, notwithstanding 
the homage universally paid to ' scriptural authority 
differences of views have widely prevailed and been 
freely discussed. Nobody ever thought that if the 
great Shankaracharya disagreed, as he did, with the 
view of Evolution as propounded by the sage Kanada, 
he, thereby, set at naught the Shabda Pramanam ; 
nor did it prevent the Acharyas Shree Ramanuja or 
Shree Madhwa from propounding their doctrine of 
Vishistadwaitam (qualified non-duality) and Dwaitam 
(duality), as against the view of Shree Shankaracharya 
himself. Indeed, I do not know if there is any other 


people in the world among whom freedom of 
thought has been more tolerated, fostered and 
respected than among the Hindus. We are told that 
in the great ancient Indian University of Benares, the 
very home, if there was one, of orthodox theism, 
students and teachers alike, were at perfect liberty 
to discuss and propound, as indeed they sometimes 
did, even atheistic doctrines like those of the 
Charvakas. Even in comparatively recent times as that 
of the great Adwaitin Madhwacharya, we find that 
in his discussion of the sixteen religio-philosophicaJ 
faiths of his time, . Charvaka Darshana (Atheism) 
has a chapter devoted solely to it, equally with 
Buddhism, Jainism and his own philosophy of Ad- 
waitism. Here, in India, the binding force of Shabda 
Praman or * authority * is all from within ; none else 
compels. Here is no ‘ blind ' veneration forced from 
without, but merely a willing recognition of inevitable 
fact that where we are dealing in the domain of ex- 
perts, those who are not ' experts ' have perforce to 
recognize the authority of those who are. Here is 
no conflict of ‘ reason ' and ‘ authority although 
some people have needlessly distressed themselves 
over such a bogey. It is not that the * experts ' have 
arrived at their conclusions, without adducing reasons 
for the same ; for reason is there and always ; but it 


is too recondite to be understood by non-experts* 
For instance, how many of us can understand the 
chain of reasoning adduced by Einstein to build up his 
Theory of Relativity ? Any expert Physicist can accept 
it or reject it, and state his reasons for doing so ; but 
I can only accept the ‘ authority ' of either Einstein 
or his opponent, til! I become myself an expert cap- 
able of reasoning on these topics ; but, even here, 
I have to use my reason for accepting one or other 
of these experts as my ‘ authority ' ; and what 
guarantee is there that my reasoning is always right 
reasoning ? I may have confounded my prejudice 
for ‘ Reason ’ and accepted the * Authority ' of that 
expert to whom I had some partiality but who was 
really in the wrong. If only we recognize that 
' authority ' does not always mean ^ perfect authority 
just as ' reasoning ' cannot always be equated to 
* right reasoning ' there will be no difficulty in under- 
standing and appreciating the role played by Shabda 
Pramanam (or the authority of the words of the wise) 
in Hindu Scientific and Philosophic thought. All that it 
says is that, in the region of expert knowledge, 
those who are novices have to accept the * authority ' 
of those who are experts. While this undoubtedly 
acts as a wholesome and conservative check against 
ignorant and upstart tyros flooding the world with 


their immature views, it, in no way, restricts the 
growth of independent thought, nor does it prevent 
experts from differing from one another, if they find 
cause to do so ; as a matter of fact, the course of 
Hindu thought abounds in numerous instances of 
^ authority ’ differing from * authority in both 
Charaka and Sushruta, the two classical works of 
Ayurveda, there are many examples of such differ- 
ences of views, propounded with rare acumen and 
felicity of expression, and discussed in thoroughly 
scientific style ; and Ayurveda, having long ago 
reached, as the Calcutta University Commissioners truly 
observe, “ the height of a systematizing and theorizing 
school of thought*' still holds a unique position as 
a system of strictly logical and scientific thinking. That 
its evolution, more especially on the practical side, 
was prematurely arrested", is no doubt true; but, 
to attribute it to *‘an unscientific veneration for 
petrified dogmas " is, in my humble opinion, to 
reverse the role of cause and effect, Unscientific 
veneration for petrified dogmas " has undoubtedly 
existed among some later day Pundits ; but, that is 
the result, not the cause, of arrested evolution and 
progress which has, in the recent past, overtaken 
not only Ayurveda but ancient Indian thought 
generally. When decay of learning sets in, the great 


masters capable of scientifically expounding their 
doctrines become few and far between ; and followers, 
imbued with more reverence for their masters than 
learning in their teachings are apt to make dogmas 
out of the doctrines propounded by their masters. 
For causes however — political and other- — of this 
general decay of Indian Learning and Arts, we must 
look deep into the records of history. 


Another objection which critics raise against Ayur- 
veda is something to this effect ; the sources of 
Ayurveda are scattered among such works of Philoso- 
phy as the Nyaya and Samkhya Darshanas, and such 
works of Religion as the Vedas, Puranas and Itihasas ; 
this mixing up of Science with Philosophy and 
Religion is unscientific. Now, this charge is quite 
true ; in Ayurveda, as in Hindu thought generally, 
these several branches of study are ever associated 
with one another ; but, when we go to the root of 
the matter, is it really possible to isolate and shut 
them off in water-tight compartments ? Has not the 
Hindu view found its supporters among some of 
the foremost of Western Scientists themselves ? 


Karl Pearson is a name to conjure with, in the field of 
modern Western Science ; yet, we find him expressing 
himself thus : ‘ ‘ The scope of science is to ascertain, 
the truth in every possible branch of knowledge : 
there is no sphere of inquiry which lies outside the 
legitimate field of Science. To draw a distinction 
between Science and Philosophy is obscurantism." ‘ 
Strong language this ; but none too strong, considering 
the fact that the notion of confining Science, Philosophy 
and Religion in isolated, water-tight compartments is 
still the fashion of the day. I quote Karl Pearson merely 
to show that the idea of viewing Science, Philosophy 
and Religion — in fact all branches of knowledge — as 
one connected whole instead of as so many dis- 
sociated entities is not altogether foreign to Western 
thought. In Ayurveda, however, as ia Indian thought 
generally, such a notbn is almost an axiomatic pro- 
position accepted by everybody as a matter of course : 
if we are to understand Ayurveda as Ayurvedists know 
it, (and such an understanding is necessary for every 
would-be critic), we must equip ourselves at least with 
a general idea of their fundamental conceptions such 
as the one we are now considering. 

Since this note was written over quarter of a 
century ago, much has happened in Modern Science 

> Grammar of Science, third edition. Volume I, page 37. 


that has made some of its leading lights recognize 
that it is not possible to keep Physics, Metaphysics and 
Philosophy in water-tight compartments as they did 
before and to intersperse or conclude their contri- 
butions and books on the Physical and Biological 
Sciences with open and direct references to Meta- 
physical, Philosophical and Religious topics. A citation 
from a leading Indian Scientist in India may be suffi- 
cient to serve as an example. At the opening cere- 
mony of a Research Institute in Northern India on 
1 9th April 1 946, Sir Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar is 
reported to have stated as follows : I am parti- 
cularly happy that he (Dr. Abdul Ahad, the Director 
of the Research Institute) has quoted in his speech 
these last words in a recent broadcast of mine on 
the subject of Scientist’s Utopia. ‘ It looks certain 
that, in the Utopia of Scientists, God and Science 
wilt be brought into a fertile Union in which the idea 
of God, instead of being diluted, will be enriched.’ 
This is my conviction and afso the belief of a great 
many top-rank Scientists of the world. The Scientist 
of to-day is not the hot-headed, blasphemous and 
conceited fellow which he used to be sometime ago. 
Physics has merged into Metaphysics. The pride of 
the Scientists has been humbled to such an extent 
that he no longer contends that Science can explain 


even all that meets the eye." One reason why 
many students of Modern Science even in India stiil 
tend to keep Science, Metaphysics. Philosophy and 
Religion in water-tight compartments may perhaps 
be due to the fact that, under the present system 
of Education in India, every one who has a Science 
Degree is not necessarily a Scientist as is well brought 
out in the following Review (that has appeared in 
the current issue of The New Review of Calcutta) 
relating to a recent publication entitled, “ The Impact 
and Value of Science : 

“ This is a case for Science convincingly put. Seven 
neat essays, ail showing how such fundamental activ- 
ities of man as Industry, Politics, War, Education, Reli- 
gion and Leadership, can be effectively and more 
successfully conducted under the aegis of Science. 
The motif throughout is that the scientific mind being 
of a ‘ ranging, imaginative and a disciplined ’ type, 
is best suited to guide the destinies of man. The 
scientist is mentally mature. Science however is not 
technology. It is a system of thought, a philosophy 
and a guide to maturity. It is a living thing of joy 
and beauty intimately interwoven with the affairs of 
life and yet distinct from them. Again, everyone that 
has a science degree is not a scientist. [Italics mine]. 
The way our science graduates are turned out is 


far from being the right way of producing minds that 
have inculcated in them the principles of scientific 
methodology. Objectivity of outlook, restraint in 
judgment, imagination and the ability to think clearly 
and culturally, is not the mark of what we ordinarily 
call a * Scientist A scientist, comme il faut, besides 
the acquisition of the scientific methods should have 
a humanistic background which will broaden his out- 
look and deepen his personality. One would suggest 
to the educationist that, living as we are in a scientific 
age, and cognizant of the methods of science, science 
teaching should be, from an early stage, an important 
feature of our education. Genuine scientific habits, 
which imply all that is true and beautiful in the human 
mind, acquired from youth, will be carried into life 
and leaven all activities. They can be carried into 
economics, politics and above all stabilize the tottering 
minds of the world's leaders." 

Whatever may be the view of the average pos- 
sessor of. a Science Degree, the notion of the intimate 
association of Philosophy, Religion and Science is almost 
an axiomatic proposition in Hindu thought and meets 
us at every turn. To understand this position, we must 
first realize that, to the Hindu, * Philosophy ' was not 
a matter for mere speculation or intellectual edifica- 
tion ; from his standpoint, no subject of inquiry was 


worthy of study, unless it helped the student to so 
regulate his life as to lead him to that state of 
perfection called Moksha. The modern Western con- 
ception of Philosophy as a pure speculative, theoreti- 
cal study dissociated, as it were, from the actual prob- 
lems of life had no place in his scheme of life ; his 
justification of philosophy was not merely its excellence 
as a theory or speculation, but its intense practical 
value in regulating one's daily life ; in other words, th^ 
great value to him of philosophy was that it served as 
the basis of certain ethical rules and physical practices, 
broadly included under the term ' Religion,' although 
modern Westerners would label some portions of 
it as * Ethics ’ and others as ' Science It may 
perhaps be better, if 1 illustrated this point by an 
example ; in that well-known work, Sarva Darshana 
Sangraha, written by the learned Philosopher-Premier 
Madhawacharya, there is a discussion of the tenets 
of some sixteen religio-philosophical faiths of India, 
each discussion occupying a chapter. Here one 
finds that, along with Buddhism, Jainism, Dwaitism, 
Adwaitism Vishistadwaitism, etc., there is specific 
mention of Raseshvara Darshanam (Chemistry) dis- 
cussed in a chapter alt by itself. To the modern 
Westerner, this is mixing up Science with Philosophy 
and Religion ; but, see what it means to the Hindu ; 


he argues thus : the one supreme object of Life 
(or Purushartham) is to attain that state of per- 
fection known as Self-Realization or Mukti, thus 
freeing oneself from the wheel of births and deaths ; 
now, the study of chemistry helps me to achieve this 
object, by intelligently using mercury and other 
chemicals in the healthy dietic and other regulations 
of my physical and other bodies ; here we see at 
once how the philosophy (if we may say so) of 
Chemistry is indissolubly associated with the Science of 
Chemistry, and with certain ethical and physical 
practices, broadly included under the name of ^ Reli- 
gion ’ — ^the ‘ Religion if you please, of Chemistry 
(Raseshavara Darshana), As in Chemistry, so it is in 
Mathematics, Grammar, Exegetics, Ayurveda or any 
other branch of study ; the philosophical aspect of 
every one of these is intimately and indissolubly 
associated with the appropriate scientific and religious 
aspects. Take, for example, a system like the Yoga of 
Patanjali ; it has (or rather is) a philosophy based on 
that of the Samkhya, but with the addition of the 
conception of Ishwara ; it is also a Religious discipline, 
teaching the aspirant to achieve Self-Realization 
through the eight-fold method of Yoga, which includes 
the due observance of certain ethical rules and 
physical practices ; then again, it is also a Science 


— pre-eminently, the science of psychology, because 
its religious discipline is largely concerned with the 
control of the modifications of the mind. Thus it is 
that every system of Indian thought is not merely 
a philosophy to be intellectually appreciated, not 
merely a science for explaining the facts of experience^ 
but is also a Religion to be lived and not merely 
believed — so direct and immediate is its bearing on 
the life that is to be lived and the discipline that 
is to be practised ; in other words, every system of 
Hindu thought is at once Philosophy, Science and 
Religion, all in one and one in all. Considered in 
this light, it may not be so difficult to understand why 
Ayurveda draws so freely from Samkhya and other 
Darshanas, which the Westerners classify as * the 
Philosophies,’ as also from Tantras and other works, 
which they would designate as distinctly ' Religious ^ 
treatises. It may perhaps be better if I illustrated the 
need and the validity of such borrowings by a reference 
to the similar borrowings of modern Western Medicine. 


We are all aware that in the curriculum of studies 
of modern Western Medicine, there is always a 


provision made for what is sometimes known as 
* preliminary scientific study ' ; a working knowledge of 
the Laws of Physics, Chemistry and the like is demand- 
ed of every student who applies for training in 
Western Medicine. This preliminary study serves at 
least a two -fold purpose ; firstly, it is calculated to 
give him a training in scientific method and to engen- 
der in him that particular intellectual attitude known 
as ' the scientific frame of mind ’ ; secondly, it will 
help the student in understanding many things in 
medicine, the reasoning of which it would be difficult 
for him to follow without such preliminary study ; 
for, text-books and teachers of medicine tacitly 
assume and apply many of the Laws of Physics, 
Chemistry, etc., without attempting to prove them ; 
hence a preliminary working-knowledge of the Laws 
of Physics, Chemistry, Biology and the like is laid 
down as essential for every student of modern 
Western Medicine. Exactly similar is the position 
held by the Nyaya, the Visheshika, the Samkhya and 
other Darshanas, in respect of Ayurveda. If Western 
Medicine finds it necessary to assume tacitly the 
theories propounded by our Physicists regarding, say, 
the constitution of the atom and the molecule, 
Ayurveda finds it equally necessary to assume the 
formulae governing the evolution of the atom as 


laid down by, say, the Samkhyas. The assumption in 
either case is quite legitimate and scientific. 1 am 
aware that it is sometimes argued that \i the claim 
of Ayurveda to be a science is to be admitted, it 
must cease to talk in terms of Nyaya, Samkhya and 
the like ; scientific orthodoxy could go no further, 
it is as if the Ayurvedists said that if Western Medicine 
is to be reckoned as a Science it must cease to 
talk in terms of those ‘ narrow * conceptions (narrow 
from their standpoint) which Modern Physics, Che- 
mistry, etc,, propound ; this attitude is just as un- 
scientific as the other. In so imperfect a science 
like Medicine, where so many theories have had 
their little day and ceased to be and are soon 
replaced by others yet newer, or may be, older ones 
in a newer garb, who shall say this alone is true, and 
that other is false ? Let us, for one moment, transport 
ourselves in thought to the days when we were many 
years younger, say, to the days when the Daltonian 
notion of the indivisible chemical atom prevailed 
among Western Scientists. Let us also imagine that 
a Hindu Samkhya or Visheshika philosopher, working 
side by side with us, told us that the chemical atom, 
far from being indivisible, was really very much 
divisible, enclosing within itself systems within sys- 
tems, and took us through the whole range of his 


evolutioriary chain, from the Trasarenu to Dvanukas„ 
Arambhaka Paramanu, and so on, back and back, to 
Tapmatras, Bhutadi and Mula-Prakriti. What should 
be our attitude, as students of Science, to our Hindu 
Samkhya Scientist ? Shall we say to him that our 
scientific speculation holds that an atom is indivisible 
and therefore his speculation, which holds to the 
contrary, has no claim to be called ' scientific ’ at 
all ? or shall we rather say : “ It may be so ; but, 
at present, I see no cause to change my view and 
prefer to work with my own speculation ; if you 
prefer yours, so be it. Where knowledge is so 
imperfect, proof is difficult and denial is folly.” If 
we had taken the first attitude, which to my mind is 
quite unscientific, we should have now to eat our 
own words and agree that our once indivisible atom 
is now divisible ; if we had taken the second, 
we could accommodate ourselves to the present 
view with perfect grace ; this is the attitude 
which, I submit, ought to characterize the truly 
scientific man. 1 therefore hold that it is quite as 
scientific for the Ayurvedists to assume the truths 
of Samkhya, Visheshika and the like, as it is 
for the student of Western Medicine to assume 
the truths of modern Physics, Chemistry and 
the like. 


If only our early European oriental scholars, to 
whose immense labours in the field of Sanskrit research 
we owe a debt which perhaps we can never repay, 
had not labelled our ' Shad-Darshanas ' as the six 
schools of * Philosophy ’ but explained and popularized 
the notion that with the Hindus all knowledge was 
one and indivisible, that facts of Science, Philosophy 
and Religion could not be cribbed, cabined and 
confined in separate water-tight compartments and 
that therefore the province of their ' philosophies ' 
was wide enough to include science, religion and ail 
else that is the subject or object of knowledge, 
then perhaps due attention would have been paid 
by our Western Scientists to those portions at least 
of these ' Philosophies * which deal with * Science ’, 
and the world at large would have been made familiar 
much earlier with certain notions of Physical and 
Psychological Sciences which have now burst upon 
them almost with revolutionary suddenness — such 
notions, for example, as the conception of an atom 
as a highly complex * system within a system ’ and 
the existence of dream-state (now fairly well recog- 
nized in the West) and other higher states of con- 
sciousness (not yet recognized by Western Scientists). 
It is of course arguable that these notions were 
merely the happy speculations of a highly imaginative 


race ; it may be so ; but, where such speculations 
have the knack of forestalling the most recent 
discoveries, it is, I submit, worth our while to treat 
these speculations with becoming respect and regard 
them, at least, on the footing of provisional or tenta- 
tive hypotheses. To be accepted as proven theories, 
much more of course, will have to be done. The 
conclusion must be shown to proceed strictly logically 
from the premises assumed, to explain satisfactorily 
the several facts of experience to which they relate, 
and to work true, when it is practically tested by 
experiments, or its predictions are put to the test of 
verification. So long as Ayurvedists are agreeable 
to work along these lines they are at perfect liberty 
to make their own assumptions and advance their 
own hypotheses ; and it is not for others to lay 
down arbitrarily 'thus far and no further'. It is as 
unscientific for the Western Scientist to say that his 
Hindu brother should not assume such and such a 
premise, as it would be for the Hindu Scientist to say 
that his Western brother should ; and this proposition 
remains fundamentally true even though it is proved 
later on that, as a matter of fact, the particular 
assumption and the particular conclusion based thereon 
were wrong wholly or in part ; for, as I have stated 
more than onc§, a proposition is admitted to be 


scientific, not because there is any finality about its 
conclusions but because such conclusions are reached 
by the use of the scientific nnethod. If that were 
not so, the writings of even the great Newton and 
Darwin would have to be classified as ' unscientific ' 
because a later generation found that their views 
on * Light-propagation * and the * Origin of Species ' 
respectively had to be challenged or modified. The 
fact of the matter seems to be that in no science is 
it possible to do away with assumptions altogether ; 
any attempt to do that would mean the proving of 
every proposition that is advanced, assuming nothing,, 
or taking nothing for granted ; and this would inevitably 
mean that every inquiry would ultimately work back 
and back to the dead wall of first or final causes 
and stop there, being unable to go any further. 
Hence it will not do for us to go on asking at 
every step the futile question, ‘ But, how do I know 
that the premises are correct?* The inquiry is 
legitimate in its proper time and turn ; but should 
not be made prematurely. Even a so-called exact 
science like Geometry cannot afford to be without 
its premises — its axioms and postulates, which are not 
proved but ‘ given ' or taken for granted ; not only 
so, we should also be prepared to be satisfied with 
premises, which are only approximately or partially 


true. Let us take some examples from an * exact ’ 
science like Geometry. If the postulates and axioms 
of Euclidean Geometry worked true in all cases, we 
should have three angles of a triangle always equal to 
two right angles ; but, as a matter of stern fact, 
Clifford found that in the case of great triangles, 
there may be a difference of as much as lO'^. 
Similarly, if, in Euclidean Geometry, it is taken as an 
axiom which requires no proof that two parallel straight 
lines could never meet, Gaussian Geometry would 
actually prove to you that they do, if produced 
sufficiently far ; so too, if Euclidean Geometry meti- 
culously deals with straight lines and plane surfaces, 
Reimann’s Geometry would teach us that there can 
really be no straight lines or flat surfaces in nature, 
whatever appearances and Euclidean Geometry may 
say to the contrary ; but do we, for these reasons, 
consider Euclidean Geometry unscientific or decline J:o 
make use of it for all that it is worth ? No, most 
assuredly no, unless we are so unwise as to deny 
ourselves a useful avenue of knowledge. Let us keep 
these facts well in our minds when we deal with 
Ayurveda ; let us remember that no science can afford 
to do away with premises altogether — not even with 
such as are known to be true only partially and 
not wholly ; let us therefore be wiser than setting up 

any unscientific linnits to the perfectly scientific right 
of Ayurveda to advance any premises it wants to. 
Unquestionably, it is our right as it is our duty to 
examine the validity of the premises later on, as also 
to see how far their conclusions follow strictly logically 
from their premises, how far their theories offer 
satisfactory explanations for the diverse phenomena 
of health and ill-health, and how far the practices 
based on those theories work satisfactorily when 
applied to problems of preventing and curing diseases. 
All these inquiries are perfectly legitimate in their proper 
time and order ; meanwhile, let us accept the premises 
tentatively and pass on to study the general principles 
of Ayurveda as Ayurvedists know it. 



Alike in Western Medicine and Ayurveda, a pre- 
Jiminary knowledge of certain fundamental Laws of 
Physics, Chemistry, Biology, etc., is essential for a 
proper understanding of the science of Medicine. 
Hence it becomes necessary for me to preface my 
■discussion of the subjects of Medicine proper by a 
brief reference to certain fundamental theories which 
form the bases of Ayurveda. Before I do so I have 
to make a little digression regarding the translations 
of Samskrit technical terms like * the Panchabhuta ', 
'the Thridosha', etc., whose current mistranslations 
are misleading even wary and well-meaning critics. 
Professor Westaway mentions foremost in his list of 
■qualifications for those who wish to master the scientific 
method that they ' must learn to get at the exact 
meaning of words ’ ; and among the causes of our 
failure in this respect, he rightly makes prominent 


mention of the difficulty in ‘ translating from one 
language to another adding incidentally that our 
failure to get at the exact meanings of words is 
responsible ‘ for nine-tenths of the wrangling that goes 
on in all the Council Chambers of the country’. 
If Indian Sciences and Philosophies are to be understood 
aright, it is necessary for us to realize this difficulty 
of translating from one language to another, and to 
learn to associate with Samskrit terms the exact 
connotations associated with them by Samskritist 
professors of those subjects. 


Let us take, for example, the term • Panchabhuta 
Prithvi, Ap, Thejas, Vayu and Akash, generally mistrans- 
lated as the five, ' elements ' ‘ Earth, Water, Fire, Air 
and Sky. Such a mistranslation naturally misleads 
people to say disparagingly of the knowledge of the 
Ancients that it was no better than to reckon the 
Earth and the rest as ‘ Elements ’ while the veriest 
school-boy now knows from his knowledge of modern 
Western science that they are not ‘ elements ’ at all 
but compound substances analysable into elements of 
various kinds. What the Ancients really meant by 
the term ‘ Panchabhuta ’ was, of course, quite different 


from the elements of modern physics and chemistry — 
something beyond the elements and compounds 
known to them. " The five Bhutas stand for a 
classification of substances on the basis of their generic 
properties resulting, as the Sankhyas hold, from the 
structural type of their constituent atoms — a classifi- 
cation more physical than chemical or properly speaking 
chemico-physical, unlike the purely chemical classifi- 
cation of the so-called elements of modern chemistry. 
A Paramanu is a type of Atoms corresponding to 
each Bhuta class ; and indeed one and the same 
kind of Paramanu may comprehend atoms of different 
masses, if only they agree in their structural type 
£Seal : Positive Sciences of the Hindus (1915 Edition), 
page 40.] This classification is analogous to the 
classification of * the States of Matter the three 
states solid, liquid and gaseous of Modern Science 
and two more which are not yet specifically designated 
therein as * states of matter ’ but which may be 
provisionally translated as " Radiant Matter ’ and 
‘ Ether * for want of better terms. That the states 
of matter should be not three but five and only five, 
follows strictly logically from the basic concepts of the 
Evolutionary Theory of the Hindus, according to 
which the five states of Matter — Prithvi, Ap, Tejas, 
Vayu and Akash correspond to the five senses, viz,, 


the senses of smell, taste, vision, touch and hearing 
respectively ; the objective world of matter is 
comprehended subjectively by means of the five senses 
so far developed in Man at the present stage of his 
evolution ; and the objective series of the five states 
of Matter and the subjective series of the five senses 
are both evolutionary products arising in parallel 
series from one common origin in Prakriti (the material 
principle) at the level of Ahankar. We speak of five 
states of rhatter because we have so far developed five 
senses only to contact the world of matter and report 
to the Mind. If tomorrow we develop a sixth sense, 
we may speak of a sixth state of matter. This correla- 
tion of matter and senses is not quite foreign to 
modern Western thought as may be gathered by 
the statement of the distinguished scientist, the late 
Sir James Jeans, who has written ; ** Matter may be 
defined as that which is capable of originating 
objective sensations — sensations which can be per- 
ceived by anyone who is suitably conditioned to 
receive them — as, for instance, by sending rays of 
light into our eyes.*' (The New Background of Science 
— 1943 edition — page 12) This correlation between 
Matter, Senses and the Mind is, however, not develop- 
ed in modern Western Science to the extent and \n 
the manner developed in the Ancient Wisdom of 


India where it serves to bring the knowledge of the 
Physical, Physiological and Psychological sciences into 
close interrelationship with one another as parts of 
one integrated whole — that fundamental oneness 
where there is unity of all knowledge. 

The Ayurvedic definition and analysis of Matter in 
terms of Panchabhutas is subjective — that is, related 
to the sense-impressions resulting from contacts of 
Matter with the senses, while the Western analysis 
according to the chemical elements composing it is 
objective. From a philosophical standpoint, the sub- 
jective analysis provides the advantage and satisfaction 
of having a complete theory valid for all time (the 
attribute of Sanatana). In the objective analysis of 
the West, we have to go on adding to our list of 
chemical atoms as new elements are brought to light 
by Scientific Research. For example, the chemical 
elements were all listed under eighty and odd names 
when this Memorandum was first written. Since then, 
the list is being added to so that we have now 
reached No. 94 — Plutonium. The subjective analysis 
has five ready-made niches fashioned for all time, 
in one or other of which all things known in the 
past and present as well as those that become known 
in the future find ready accommodation. The enuncia- 
tion of theories having this quality of Sanatana 


applicability for all time (past, present and future) 
is a general feature of Hindu analytical thought 
which strikes us throughout, as will be seen pre- 
sently when considering the topics of Diagnosis and 
Treatment, Aetiology and Pathology etc. ; and will 
be dealt with at a little length under Aetiology 
where its comprehensiveness is a specially striking 

That the Panchabhutas stand then not for ' ele- 
ments ’ of our Physical Sciences as the mistranslation 
of the term would have it, but for the five types or 
classes of objects in our material Universe correlated 
to the five senses by means of which we subjectively 
contact our objective Universe, will become even 
more clear when we consider the Panchabhutic 
classification of drugs where the Ayurvedists have 
added to the Darshanic description significant points 
correlating the general properties and actions on the 
human system of each class of drugs to the particular 
Bhuta predominant in the Panchabhutic constitution of 
the particular class concerned. 


The demand is frequently made by many followers 
of the modern Western Medicine, that if such 


Ayurvedic Theories like the Panchabhuta and Thridosha 
Theories are to be acceptable as valid, then they 
should be explained to them in terms of modern 
Western Science and in a manner that should be 
dear to persons of ordinary intelligence not proficient 
in or acquainted with even the elements of the 
Darshanas or Ayurveda. Such a demand is likely to 
provoke a counter-demand by the followers of 
Ayurveda that if modern theories relating to the 
structure of Matter or the Atom or the constitution 
of Light, Electricity and Energy generally are to be 
accepted as valid, then they should be explained 
in terms of their own sciences and in a manner 
that should be clear to persons of ordinary intelli- 
gence not proficient in or acquainted with even the 
elements of modern Science. In the first place, it is 
not possible to explain or go into the root of the 
fundamental ideas underlying modern views on these 
topics without referring to such highly recondite 
concepts as, for example, ‘ the principle of Relativity * 
and * the Quantum theory \ for the proper un- 
derstanding of which a high standard of mathematical 
knowledge is a necessary pre-requisite ; and even 
then, these concepts are, in the words of the dis- 
tinguished Scientist, the late Sir James Jeans, difficult 
to grasp and still more difficult to explain Ordinary 


text-books on Physics say very little on such recondite 
concepts ; they deal only with topics like * Properties 
of Matter ’ (in fact, some Text-books on Physics bear 
the title ** Properties of Matter ") which are within 
the comprehension of our ordinary school or college 
students. Exactly similar is the case with the Pancha- 
bhuta or Thridosha Siddhantas of Ayurveda which 
to use Jean s words quoted above, are * difficult to 
grasp and still more difficult ' to explain ' ; for their 
proper understanding, a scholarly knowledge of the 
Darshanas is a necessary pre-requisite. Even with 
such scholarly knowledge, it may require concentrated 
thinking or meditation for a period — long or short 
according to the capacity of the individual concerned 
before the real import of such a concept like the 
Thrigunas (of which I shall say something presently 
in regard to its relationship to both Panchabhuta and 
Thridosha Siddhantas) begins to dawn upon our 
minds ; but the difficulty of grasping and explaining 
such recondite theories does not come in the way of 
their ordinary practical applications; for, just as 
ordinary Text-books on Physics deal with ' Properties 
of Matter so do ordinary Text-books on Ayurveda 
deal with the properties of the Panchabhutas and 
the Thridhatus; and ail these are within the com- 
prehension of a person of ordinary intelligence who 


approaches the study of these topics with the re- 
quisite preliminary study. For example, the distin- 
guishing features of the three Dhatus — Vata, Pitha, 
and Kapha — both in health and ill-health are 
given in ail standard Text-books of Ayurveda, and 
in great detail in some books ; but to know 
their properties or effects does not necessarily 
mean we shall be able to define them or say 
exactly what they are in reality. This is the case 
with certain fundamental ideas as, for example, 

* Electricity so familar to us and so much talked 
of at the present day. From a study of its pro- 
perties and its effects, we seem to sense or infer 
its presence without being able to define exactly 
what it is. As stated by the distinguished physicist 
and Nobel Laureate, Sir George Thomson, in his 
book on The Atom (1947-Edition), page 5: ''It 
is becoming more and more impossible to define 
Electricity because it seems rather to be the 
fundamental idea in terms of which everything 
else must be explained and so cannot itself be 
explained without arguing in a circle. All that 
one can do is to state instances of what are 
regarded as Electrical effects and to argue by 
analogy from them. Similar is the case with the 
fundamental ideas of Ayurveda — with ' Vata \ for 


example, of its Thridhatu triad. We can state instances 
of what are recognized as Vatic effects and then 
argue or infer by analogy the presence of ‘ Vata *. 
This is necessary for purposes of Diagnosis and 
Treatment. It is fair to demand that the distinguishing 
features of * Vata ’ and instances of what are regarded 
as * Vatic ’ effects — both in health and ill-health — 
be stated. As 1 have said above, this demand is met 
in all standard works on Ayurveda ; but to go further 
and demand that ‘ Vata ’ etc., must be exactly defined 
or the Thridhosha Theory must fall is a queer demand. 
This is like demanding that Electricity must be defined 
or the Modern Electronic and related Theories must 
fall. The answer to the queer demand relating to 
^ Vata ' would be similar to the answer of Sir George 
Thomson in regard to Electricity, namely, ‘'it is 
becoming more and more impossible to define 

As regards the question interpreting or explaining 
the fundamental principle of Ayurveda in terms of 
modern Medicine, I am certainly all in favour of it as 
will be seen from my note on the question which 
appears later on ; but, as will be fully explained in 
that note, such, interpretation will be subject to 
certain strict limitations because of the differences 
in the premises of Allopathy and Ayurveda. For 


example, the Dahatu-Triad (the thridhatus), Vata, 
Pitha and Kapha, represent in the living individual 
those universal and inseparable Thrigunas (the Guna 
triad). Rajas, Satwa and Tamas, hypostatized, accord- 
ing to preponderance of one or other Guna, into 
Life, Mind and Matter, or the Vitality principle, the 
Psychic principle and the Physical Matter principle. 
Orthodox Western Physiology deals only with the 
last and not as yet with the vitality or psychic 
principle. Hence while we may attempt some sort 
of equating at the level of physical matter known 
both to Ayurveda and Allopathy, there is as yet 
nothing in the latter in terms of which things at the 
levels of vitality and psychic principles could be ex- 
plained. This consideration as well as the fact that 
principles of classification in the two (Allopathy and 
Ayurveda) are frequently different make it difficult to 
equate or interpret things in terms of one to one 
correspondence, though striking similarities in thought 
will present themselves in the course of our studies. 
These are certainly worthy of fruitful study which I 
will proceed to illustrate presently ; but, it is to be 
understood that what is indicated is mostly similarity 
and not identity or cent per cent equating of the terms 
and concepts of the one in terms and concepts of 
the other. 



We are aware that, till not very long ago, Western 
Science held that every material object could be 
analysed back and back till we reached the atoms 
of some eighty and odd elementary substances (now 
reckoned as 94 including plutonium) ; these atoms 
(literally uncuttable things) were so-called, because 
they were all considered to be simple bodies incapable 
of further division. The modern notion however is 
that the atom is far from simple and indivisible, being, 
in fact, of so complex a structure as to resemble a 
solar system on a highly miniature scale, with a com- 
paratively massive central proton-sun (constituting the 
nucleus of positive electric charge) surrounded at 
fairly respectable distances by a varying number of 
electron-planets (constituting the peripheral units of 
negative electric charge) ; nor does the complexity 
of structure end here : recent experiments have also 
shown that all the atoms of even one and the same 
chemical element may not be of one and the same 
kind ; in fact Dr. Aston’s experiments with many of 
our lighter chemical elements show that each of 
these elements is really not one element but a mixture 


of different elements known as ' Isotopes that is to 
say, elements with the same properties but with 
different atomic weights. 

This was the position over twenty-five years ago 
when this Memorandum was first written* Then it was 
a comparatively simple proposition with only two 
entities or particles, viz,, Proton and Electron ; but, this 
simplicity has gone ; we have now to reckon with 
seven or eight ; for recent investigations have 
postulated, in addition to Proton and Electron, Neu- 
tron, Neutrino, Neutretto, Positron and Meson besides 
cosmic Radiation and " Photon * as the quantum unit 
of radiation. It may be that all these particles are 
not really elementary in a fundamental sense ; future 
advances may show a new synthesis in terms of more 
fundamental and simpler conceptions as, for example, 
by synthesizing them all under the three possibilities 
in regard to Electric charge, v/z., positively charged 
particles like Proton pr Positron, negatively charged 
particles like Electron, and Neutral particles like 
Neutron. is not clear,” says Jeans, which of 

the various particles are ultimate and indivisible and 
which are composite. For instance, many physicists 
have thought that a Proton may be a composite 
structure consisting of a Neutron and a Positive 
Electron in close combination ; or again a Neutron 


may consist of a Proton and a Negative Electron. A 
further possibility is that all such questions are 
meaningless ; it may be that one set is just as 
fundamental as another. We have a certain amount 
of Mass and a certain amount of Electric charge 
in an atom ; and the way we distributed them over 
constituent particles may be a matter for our owr» 
convenience rather than of absolute truth.'' (The 
New Background of Science — 1943 — pages 1 9 to 20). 
Under those circumstances and having regard to the 
fact that the ideas of Modern Science on this question 
are still very fluid, I have thought it better not to 
revise this part of the note at present but to leave it 
exactly as it was written over twenty-five years ago ; 
because, the fundamental idea of a central sun or 
nucleus (whether envisaged as Proton or anything 
else) and a planetary or peripheral system (whether 
envisaged as Electron or anything else) stiH remains 
valid for the purposes of this note. 

Such then is the conception of matter according 
to Modern Western Science ; we can still conceive 
of the edifice of matter as being built up of some 
ninety * chemical elements ' ; but, we can no 
longer look upon these elements as simple elementary 
substances incapable of further division — no longer 
as some ninety kinds of bricks whereof the edifice is 


built ; they are rather so many ' brick-blocks if we 
may say so, all built up of the same two kinds of bricks, 
vfz., the proton and the electron ; it it doubtless 
true that these proton -electron bricks have first to be 
massed into some ninety kinds of brick-blocks which 
are then used in various ways in building the edifice 
of matter ; but, one brick-block (constituting, say, 
the atom of nitrogen) differs from another (con- 
stituting, say, the atom of oxygen) not in the quality 
of their constituent bricks, which are everywhere of 
the same two kinds only viz., proton and electron, 
but in the number and pattern of disposition of these 
bricks in each brick-block. In building the edifice of 
matter, different kinds of brick-blocks may be used, 
either singly or in combination for building different 
parts of the edifice ; but however different one part 
may appear from another, they are all built up of the 
same two kinds of bricks, viz., proton and electron ; 
and the moment we recognize this common basis of 
ail matter, we are already on the highway to Alchemy. 
If, by some means, we can but shake up the arrange- 
ment of the proton -electron bricks of the brick-blocks 
of a base metal like lead, into the proton-electron 
arrangement constituting the brick-blocks of a noble 
metal like gold, then, verily, we have achieved 
alchemy which, by the way, has now become quite 


scientific and respectable ; several stars of the first 
magnitude in our scientific galaxy are now hard at 
work in achieving the transmutation of elements and 
some brilliant results have been reported already, 
although they cannot, as yet, be reckoned as 
successful business propositions ; but, to-morrow, 
even that may come to pass ; and if it does, it is 
some consolation to know that we are not now likely 
to denounce the successful wizard in this line as an 
infamous charlatan and cheat ; we are more likely 
to go tumbling over one another to hail him as the 
greatest F.R.S. of the day. 

Now, let us turn for a moment to Hindu notions 
on this subject. What do we find here ? Ideas 
strikingly modern meet us from the very dawn of 
the history of Hindu Scientific thought : the Paramanu, 
which may be said to correspond to the atom of our 
Western chemists has ever been looked upon here 
as complex in structure, and never as a simple 
indivisible entity ; the modern conception of an atom 
as being a complex proton-electron system finds its 
parallel in Hindu Scientific thought from its very 
commencement, appearing all at once in its full- 
fledged modernness without passing, as in the West„ 
through the stage of positing a simple and uncuttable 
atom. We may then look upon the Paramanu as 


corresponding to the atom of our modern Western 
chemists, or to the brick-blocks of our analogy, but 
with a difference which may be explained thus. 
Modern Science teaches that though we have some 
ninety different chemical elements, yet, the Atomic 
brick-blocks of all of these are everywhere built of 
the same two kinds of bricks, viz., the protons and 
the electrons ; according to the Hindu view also, every 
Paramanu brick-block is considered to be built of 
two kinds of bricks, viz., the central bricks of one 
kind of Tanmatras (/.e.. Proto-matters charged with 
specific energy of one kind, and corresponding to 
the modern scientists’ Protons charged with positive 
electricity) and the peripheral bricks of another kind 
of Tammatras (/.e.. Proto-matters charged with 
specific energy of another kind, and corresponding 
to the modern scientists' Electrons, charged with 
negative electricity). So far, both views seem to 
agree ; at this point, however, the Hindus have gone 
a step further ; they consider that, corresponding 
to each of the five Mahabhutas (/.e., Prithvi and other 
' States of Matter ’) there is a specific type, as 
it were, of proton -electron bricks ; in other words, 
there are not one but five types of proton-electron 
bricks, corresponding to the five ' States of Matter ' 
(/.e., to the five Mahabhutas, Prithvi and the rest). 


As regards the exact nature of these five types of 
bricks, there have been some differences of opinion 
among different schools of Hindu thought. Ayurvedic 
authorities like Charaka and Sushruta follow mostly 
the Samkhya view, and sometimes the Vedantic ; i 
shall therefore make brief mention here of both of 
these views. 


According to Vedantic Scientists, each of the five 
gross Bhutas (Mahabhutas) are derived from five 
corresponding subtile Bhutas (Sukshma Bhutas) ; these 
may be taken to correspond to the five Tanmatras 
of the Samkhyas which are, as I have stated above,, 
proto-matters charged with energies of various kinds 
— ^the proton -electron bricks, if we may say so, that 
go to build up the Paramanus (the Atomic brick- 
blocks) of the five gross Bhutas ; the Vedantists hold 
that into the structure of the atom of every gross 
Bhuta all the five subtile Bhutas enter in certain 
definite proportions. In the evolution of the atom 
of any particular gross Bhuta, say, Mahabhuta Prithvi, 
the corresponding subtile Bhuta (in this case, 
Sukshma Bhuta Prithvi) acts as the central radicle 
(corresponding to the proton brick of Modern 


Science) while all the other four subtile Bhutas 
go to form the peripheral Electron-bricks of our 
Paramanu brick-block ; the process of transforma- 
tion of a gross Bhuta from the subtile Bhutas is 
technically known as Panchikarana (quintuplication) 
which is illustrated thus : The Mahabuta Earth, 

gross Earth-matter, is composed of four parts 
of subtile Earth-matter and one part each of 
the other forms of subtile matter. The Maha- 
bhuta Vayu is composed of four parts of subtile 
gaseous matter and one part each of the other 
forms of subtile matter.” And similarly with other 

Hence if ak, v, t, ap, p, represent the five forms 
of subtle matter (Akasha, Vayu, Thejas, Ap and Prithvi), 
and AK, V, T, AP, P, stand for the corresponding 
Mahabhutas, we may represent the constitution of 
the Mahabhutas as follows : 

AK = ak-4 (Vi t^ ap^ pj) ak-4 being the radicle. 

V = v-4 (aki ti api pj. v-4 
T = t-4 (akj api t-4 
AP = ap-4 (aki t^ Pj), ap-4 
, P == p.4 (akj, V, tj api), p-4 „ ' 

* The Positive Sciences of the Hindus, by Seal (1915 
edition) pages 85-87. 


As to the origin of these subtile Bhutas them- 
selves, the Vedantic Sdentists hold that each is 
derived from one which is higher in the scale ; 
thus, subtile Prithvi comes from subtile Ap, which 
comes from subtile Thejas, which comes from subtile 
Vayu, which again comes from subtile Akasha ; and 
all these subtile Bhutas are essentially Proto-matters 
charged with specific energies of various kinds. From 
the above formula of Evolution it will be seen that, 
according to the Vedantic Scientists, the contents of 
the central radicle is equal to the contents of all the 
peripheral units put together — a view that brings at 
once to our minds the notion of the Modern Scientist 
that the charge on the central proton is equal, 
though opposite, to the charges on all the peripheral 
electrons put together ; but, there is this fact to be 
noticed, viz,, that the peripheral electrons would, 
in this view, be not of one kind but of four different 
kinds ; it would be very interesting to know if this 
view finds any support from modern Science. In 
any case, it is the central radicle that is held to be 
the characteristic part. This is similar to the modern 
view that the nucleus is the characteristic part of an 
atom and that if you alter it, you get a new 
Atom or perhaps two as in certain cases of ‘ Atom 
splitting \ 



According to Samkhya Scientists, the five kinds 
of Bhuta Paramanus (Atom brick-blocks) are evolved 
from the corresponding Tanmatras by the process 
known technically as Samshritta Viveka (differentiation 
within the integrated) ; the building up of each 
kind of Bhuta Paramanu requires two kinds of Tanmatras 
(Proto-matter charged with energy) — one kind of 
Tanmatra acting as the central radicle, while another 

kind constituting 
following table : 

the periphery, as 

indicated in the 

Types of Atoms 

Tanmatras which act as 
the central radicle 
(corresponding to 
Protons of Modern 

Tanmatras which 
act as the peri- 
pheral units 
to Electrons of 
Modern Science) 

1* Akasha (Mono- 

Sbabda Tanmantra . — 
(Proto-matter charged 
potentially with the 
energy of sound im- 
pacts ; possesses po- 
tentially parispanda or 
Vibration energy.) 

Bhutadi — the root 
of ail proto-mat- 
ters ; but, it is 
not itself Tan- 
matra; to pursue 
this inquiry fur- 
ther is to seek 
for first or final 
causes which is 
not attempted 

2. Vayu (Di-Tan- 

Sparsha T a nm a tr a , — 
(Proto-matter charged 
potentfaily with the 
energy of Tactile im- 
pacts ; possesses po- 
tentially Vibration en- 
ergy plus Tactile 

Shabda Tanmatra 


Types of Atoms 

3. Thejas (Tri-Tan- 

4. Ap (Tetra-Tan- 

5. Prithvi (Penta- 

Tanmatras which act as 
the central radicle 
(corresponding to 
Protons of Modern 

Rasa lanmatra, — (Proto- 
matter charged po- 
tentially with the 
energy of Light and 
Heat impacts ; pos- 
sesses potentially vib- 
ration energy plus 
Tactile energy plus 
Light and Heat 

Rasa Tanmatra. — (Proto- 
matter charged po- 
tentially with the 
energy of Taste im- 
pacts ; possesses po- 
tentially V i b r a tion 
energy plus Tactile 
energy plus Light and 
Heat energy plus 
Taste energy.) 

Gandha T a n m a tr a. — 
(Proto-matter charged 
potentially with the 
energy of smell-im- 
pacts ; possesses po- 
tentially V i b r a t ion 
energy plus Tactile 
energy plus Light 
and Heat energy 
plus Taste-energy plus 
Smell energy.) 

Tanmatras which 
act as the peri- 
pheral units 
to Electrons of 
Modern Science) 

Sparsba Tanmatra, 

Rupa Tanmatra. 

Rasa Tanmatra. 


It is sometimes objected that, in the theories of 
Evolution of Atoms adumbrated above, there is a 


certain mixing up of ' Energy ’ and ' Matter * ; that 
is quite true ; but it cannot be helped ; Modern 
Western Science itself is now being led to more or 
less the same position. When we are in the region 
of the practically weightless Electrons, we cannot help 
speaking of them, in terms of energy, that is, as 
charges of negative electricity, just as the Hindus 
speak of their Tanmatras as being charges of specific 
kinds of energy. Nowadays, we talk of Electrical 
" Energy ’ being stored, bought and sold, just as if 
it were an article of merchandise like petrol. When 
we fight for concessions and monopolies for exploiting 
oil beds in Persia, Asia Minor and elsewhere, our 
greed is really not for matter but for energy ; for 
every gallon of petrol means not merely a definite 
quantity of matter but also a tremendous amount of 
energy locked up in it. This energy is of various 
kinds ; it is only a part of its chemical energy that 
Western Science has learnt to make use of for work 
in our power-houses, mills, factories, and the like ; 
but, this is as small as the tiniest drop in the ocean 
when compared with the stupendous quantities — im- 
mensities upon immensities- — of energy that remain 
locked up in its atoms. Fortunately for the world. 
Western Scientists have not yet been able to release 
this energy ; I say ' fortunately ’ advisedly ; for 


when one reflects over the savagest and basest uses 
to which scientific knowledge was applied in the 
recent war, (this refers to the war of 1914-18) one 
shudders to think of the diabolical ghastliness that 
may result if people with the mentality of those 
responsible for the horrors of the last war come to 
possess the secret of releasing energies that may 
blow up continents as easily as they now do palaces 
and forts. [This was the position in 1922 when this 
Memorandum was written. Now, the immensities of 
nuclear energy have been released through Atom- 
splitting ” and the manufacture of Atom-bombs and- 
applied to terrible destructive uses as at Hiroshima.J 
When we have proceeded thus far in our comparative 
study, a question irresistibly presents itself before our 
minds and it is this : Is this * Atomic Energy ' of 
modern Western Scientists the same as the Tanmatric 
energy, which, as we have just seen in our dis- 
cussion of the Hindu conception of -the evolution of 
Atoms, plays so vital a part in the genesis of the 
Bhutaparamanu, corresponding to our chemical 
Atom ? The resemblance is very close ; but, I must 
resist the temptation to hazard a definite answer, 
as it really requires a much better Jcnowledge 
of both systems than what I have been able to 


I may, however, mention here that I discussed the 
matter with a profound and encyclopaedic student of 
modern Physics, my friend Professor Yadunandan 
Prasad, M.A. (Cantab.), B.SC. (Lond.), who was very 
much interested to see the remarkable resemblances 
that do exist between the ancient Hindu and the 
modern Western conceptions of the structure of the 
atom. He suggested to me that Tanmatric energy 
corresponded in all probability to the energy locked 
up in the Proton-electron nucleus of the atom, and 
that, while the five types of Tanmatras or Pancha- 
Bhutas that the Hindus speak of has no definite 
counterpart in modern Physics, an explanation for the 
distinction may perhaps be found in the * Quantum ' 
theory of modern Physicists; this is a very interesting 
and valuable suggestion ; for, the very word ^ Tan- 
matra ’ contains a definite suggestion of * Quantum " 
or measure (Matra) ; but then it is not enough for 
our purposes to have only one kind of quantum or 
' Photon ' as it is called, which would enter our eyes, 
contact our retinas and enable us to * see * or 
become aware of the sensation of vision. VVe need 
four more or five in all to enable us to become aware 
of the intimations of all the five senses, namely, senses 
of hearing, touching, seeing, tasting and smelling ; 
for, the Ayurvedists hold that the type of Panchabhutic 


matter of each of our sense-organs determines the 
kind of sensation we become aware of when the 
mind attends to the report of the particular sense- 
organ concerned. We ' see ’ an object by means 
of our eyes because of the presence therein of 
Panchabhutic matter of the type of Thejas (Luminous 
or Radiant Matter ?) from which its predominant 
Tanmatra, viz,, Rupa Tanmatra (bundle of Photons 
constituting Light ?) move to enter our eyes and 
contact our retinas which report to our minds the 
presence of Light from the objects seen and we, the 
subjects, become aware of the objects seen. Similar 
is the case with our other senses so that, in this 
respect, Jeans may be considered to be in the 
authentic line of ancient Ayurvedists when he writes 
in his book (The New Background of Science — 1943 
edition — page 12) that " In general, we may say that 
we experience the outer world through small samples 
of it coming into contact with our sense-organs. The 
outer-world consists of Matter and Energy ; samples 
of this outer world consist of Molecules and Photons '' ; 
but, as 1 have said above, it is not enough for 
Ayurvedists to speak of only one kind of quantum 
namely Photon. We need, in addition, Akousticons, 
Tactons, Gustons and Olfactons if these neologisms 
are permissible and suitable. If that day comes when 


advances in nnodern Science would enable us to speak 
of these in terms similar to those we now speak of in 
regard to Photons, then, indeed, will have arrived the 
day when we can interpret in th$ language of modern 
Science the teaching relating to this subject contained 
in an Aphorism of Charaka, the father of Ayurveda, 
(Vide Charaka-Sutrasthan, Chap. VIII) which sum- 
marizes the teaching through correlations and corres- 
pondences shown below : 

** \t \s certain that there are 

1 . Pancha ' 
Indriyas — 






The five 

■ Sense of 

Sense of 

Sense of 

Sense of 

Sense of 







Senses, ) 

2. Pancha 
Dravyas — 






The five 
matter- ' 

types of 

^ Radiant 










tas pre- 
present. 1 

3. Pancha ^ 
— The five 







of the five 











4. Pancha 
Vishayas — 
The five 
objects ^ 
(Quanta ?) 
hended by 
the five 

Rupa, Sabda, Gandha, 

Photon. Audition * Olfacton 
or Akous- 


^ Guston 

* Tacton 

* If the above neologisms are ungrammatical or uncouth. 
I beg to be excused : for I know no Latin or Greek » 
If and when the need arises, the incorrect or uncouth 
terms will doubtless be replaced by correct and suit- 
able substitutes. 

5. Pancha 
The five 

Chakshur Buddhi (Perception of Vision) and other 
Buddhis (like Srothra Buddhi perception of audition 
etc.). These are Transformations of the five Sensations 
into the five corresponding perceptions when Sense- 
objects, Senses, Mind and Atman are in tune." 

Such are the fundamental chemico-physica! notions 
of the Hindus with which we must be familiar if we 
are to understand Ayurveda aright. To my mind 
these show in certain points striking correspondences 
to the most recent teachings of modern Western 
Science ; in certain points the Hindus have gone even 
further in their speculations ; will these conceptions 
also be justified by the future discoveries of modern 
Science ? It is rash to assert and difficult to deny ; 
but, when one realizes how some of these theories 
have been justified by the most recent events in 
modern Science, one cannot help entertaining the 


feeling that, as some theories have already proved 
true, the same may happen in the case of others as 
well. In this connexion, it is also worth noting that 
the Hindu tradition about the origin of these theories 
refers to them as matters of direct observation and 
not of mere speculation. To understand how this 
comes about, we have to realize that the methods by 
which the Hindus sought to cognize things beyond the 
range of our senses, differed in one vital respect from 
the methods of the West. In modern Science, we seek 
to overcome the limitations of our senses by equipping 
ourselves with various external aids like the micros- 
cope, telescope, the spectroscope, the cardiograph 
and the like ; the Hindus however preferred to effect 
the same results, not by providing their senses with 
external aids, but by improving their own internal 
organs of sense, so that their range of perception 
may be extended to any desired degree. The way 
of effecting this improvement was by exercising the 
senses and the mind in certain ways indicated in the 
authoritative teachings and taught by the Guru to 
the Shishya when he was ready for it physically, 
morally and otherwise. It is claimed, for instance, 
that when they taught about the structure of the 
Atom, they did not merely speculate in the matter but 
described things as they directly saw them. It is 


however recognized that, as evidence of direct obser- 
vation, it is of value only to those great seers who 
could see things for themselves, and not for others ; 
to these latter, it could be offered only as a good 
working hypothesis (or Kalpana), to which they are 
free to apply the various tests of a valid hypothesis 
before they accepted it. Herein lies the difficulty 
of the Hindu method ; because, the perfecting 
of the senses to the desired degree can be achieved 
by only those few in our generation who are will- 
ing to pay the price of physical, moral and other 
disciplines necessary for acquiring the Yoga Siddhis 
required for the purpose ; and therefore the satisfac- 
tion of direct observation is not possible to the 
great majority of us. Herein lies the immense value 
of the external aids which Western Science provides 
us with ; for, many of us can learn with comparative 
ease how to use them in checking and verifying things 
for ourselves ; and this is an advantage of very great 


For a proper appreciation of the treasures of 
Ayurveda by the present generation of intellectuals in 


India and the world at large, it is necessary to present 
them, wherever possible, in the language of modern 
Science. This may be illustrated by an example with 
reference to the great work of our distinguished 
countrymen the late Jagadish Chandra Bose. With 
the aid of his marvellous instruments of great delicacy 
and precision he demonstrated to an astonished 
world that the response to stimuli of both the so- 
called living, (e.g., animals) and the so-called non-living 
(e.g., plants) were so strikingly similar as to suggest 
one common Life animating both Kingdoms of 
Nature ; but, he was never tired of proclaiming from 
the house-tops that what he demonstrated was noth- 
ing new but was only part of that Ancient Wisdom 
which our great forefathers taught many millennia 
ago on the banks of the Ganga. This is certainly 
true. Nevertheless, the fact that Bose demonstrated 
the truth of the ancient teaching by methods and 
through tools of modern Science did serve to carry 
conviction to the minds of moderns in a manner and to 
a degree that was not realized before even by Indians 
familiar with the teachings of our Ancient Wisdom. 
It made the ancient teaching live once again in our 
minds as a living reality and be treasured as our 
precious and valued heritage — one of the many 
that diligent search and research by competent 


investigators of the present and the future may unveil in 
course of time. Such, for example, are the Pancha- 
bhuta Theory of Matter, already considered, with its 
Matter-Mind parallellism and correspondence {the 
Pancha Bhuta, the Pancha Tanmatra and Pancha Indriya 
relationship) which integrates in a wondrously illuminat- 
ing way our Physical and Biological Sciences into a 
comprehensive and fundamentally inseparable unity 
of origin and evolution ; the thridosha Physiology, 
Pathology and Therapeutics ; the Sankhya-yoga Psy- 
chology — theoretical and applied : the Vedantic view 
of Prana (the Life-Principle) ; the Dravya-Guna-Virya- 
Vipaka Pharmacology and Therapeutics ; and the like. 
Each century and generation has had its own interests, 
outlooks and methods of expression of the same basic 
ideas and fundamental conceptions. There was a time 
in this country when Poetry was the medium of 
expression for all great ideas and teachings, even in 
the domain of the positive sciences. The means and 
symbology adopted for expressing the same funda- 
mental ideas and basic truths have varied and will 
perhaps continue to vary from age to age and genera- 
tion to generation. It may even happen that these 
may not be expressed through the symbology of words 
at all whether of the spoken language or written 
literature but find expression through the symbology of 


Mysticism, Music, Painting, Sculpture, Architecture and 
the like. It is not often recognized, or recognized 
sufficiently, that all words, spoken or written, are 
only symbolical — as symbolical, for example, as the 
lines and contours of the static Arts or the poses 
and gestures of the Dance recital of Bharata Natya 
or other forms of the Dynamic Arts. When we 
feel thrilled, uplifted and transported to realms of 
rapture and ecstasy as we read a great literary 
classic, it is not the words, the writings consisting 
of certain black lines on white paper, that can, by 
themselves, produce the exalted result. The words 
and writings like painting and sculpture are but 
symbols suggestive of something far beyond them- 
selves but capable of evoking in responsive minds 
something of the nature of the great thoughts and 
ecstatic experiences of the original authors, poets, 
philosophers, scientists, religiosi-mystics and other great 
creators of things of wisdom and grace, love and 
beauty. The same words and pictures (whether 
executed by pen or brush) which mean so much 
to cultured men and women educated in a particular 
way may mean nothing to others who are not so edu- 
cated or not educated at all. Not dissimilar is the case 
with the fundamental ideas and basic truths of Ayur- 
veda. They are written in a manner and on a 


background appropriate and natural to the intellectual 
and esthetic atmosphere of the ages they were written 
for. They may now appear quaint to many modern 
intellectuals whose language of expression and under- 
standing is that of modern Science. If we wish the 
treasures of Ayurveda to be understood and appre- 
ciated by students of Medicine and Science in modern 
India and the world at large, we have to express them 
in an increasing measure in the language of modern 
Science as far as it is possible to do so. The world 
at large and even intellectual India of the present 
day will not generally enthuse over the difficult task 
of attuning their minds to the manners and modes 
of expression natural to the intellectual atmosphere 
of the great days of the past when the treasures of 
Ayurveda forming part of our Ancient Wisdom and 
its precious Scientific heritage became enshrined in the 
classical works on Ayurveda. Hence the need — the 
urgent need — for presenting the Ancient Wisdom,, 
wherever possible and as far as possible in the 
language and through the tools of modern Science. 


It is, however, very necessary in this context to 
sound a note of warning as to what should not be 


done. We should not torture Ayurvedic Texts to 
read into them modern Allopathic teachings through 
forced comparisons and fanciful interpretations. 
Where the import of the Ayurvedic Texts as under- 
stood in their ordinary and natural meaning is in 
harmony with the teaching of modern Allopathy on 
a particular topic, well and good ; we will do well to 
follow the lines of such fruitful studies and investi- 
gations. That would be a real service to both 
Ayurveda and Allopathy. Where, however, the 
harmonising of the two teachings is not yet possible 
in regard to any particular topic when the relevant 
Ayurvedic texts are understood in their own natural 
and ordinary meanings, we must not proceed to have 
recourse to forced and fanciful interpretations as 
though the final test of the validity of an Ayurvedic 
teaching is its agreement with the Allopathic teaching 
on the topic. The ultimate test as to which of 
the two different teachings on any particular topic 
should be more acceptable to us should surely be 
not what label — Allopathy or Ayurveda — it bears 
but which of them explains better the facts of 
experience and works better when applied to prob- 
lems of health and ill-health. The reason why 1 am 
making a specific reference to this aspect of the 
question is because I see, now and again, attempts 


being made to read modern Western teachings into 
Ancient Indian writings by a process of forced 
interpretations as, for example, when the nomenclature 
of modern bacteriology is read into certain Ancient 
texts of the Vedas or when certain fundamental 
concepts such as Vata, Pitha and Kapha of the 
Thridhatu Siddhanta of Ayurveda are equated to 
certain specific things of Western Physiology. In 
referring to analogous attempts relating to “ Chakras ”, 
the late Arthur Avalon (Sir John Woodroffe) 
observed as follows in his book on ‘ ‘ Serpent 
Power” (Kundalini Shakti): — "1 desire to add that 
some modern Indian writers have also helped 
to diffuse erroneous notions about the Chakras 
by describing them from what is merely a mater- 
ialistic or Physiological standpoint. To do so, is 
not merely to misrepresent the case but to 
give it away : for physiology does not know the 
Chakras as they exist in themselves — that is as centres 
of consciousness — and of its activity as Prana-Vayu, 
Sukshma or subtle Vita! force, though it does deal 
with the gross body which is related to them. Those 
who appeal to Physiology only are likely to return 
non-suited . Every word of this is as true of 
concepts like Thridhatus — Vata, Pitha and Kapha as 
of the Chakras. 


Meaning of the terms “ Dhatu ”, or " Dosha ” and “ Mala " 

The three Dhatus known as Vata, Pitha and 
Kapha are the three elementary and fundamental 
units or principles on which the building and suste- 
nance of the body depend. Hence, it is that they 
are called ‘ DHATUS which literally means ‘ SUP- 
PORTERS When they are in normal equilibrium, 
jt is health ; and ill-health when they are not, in which 
case the ‘ Dhatus ' are technically known as ‘ Doshas ' 
literally ‘ Faults ’ ; this is because in this condition they 
give rise to ‘ Faults ’ or ill-health in the body. When 
normally disposed, the Dhatus are in their ‘ Prasada ’ 
(or pure) state, fit for the building and sustenance 
of the body ; when abnormally disposed, they are in 
their ‘ Mala ’ (or impure) state, fit to be rejected and 
thrown out of ' the body as Kitta (Dross) . When 
looked at from this standpoint of ‘ effecting impurity ’ 


(Malinikarana), they are also spoken of as ' Malas * 
(impurities). These are the primary meanings of the 
terms Dhatu, Dosha and Mala, The term Dhatu " 
has also a secondary meaning when the phrase 
Sapta Dhatu"' is used. In this context, it means 
the seven elementary tissues of Ayurveda viz. Rasa 
(Chyle)* Rakta (Blood), Mamsa (Muscle) etc. which 
will be dealt with later. It is not at all difficult to 
know from the context in which meaning the term 
Dhatu " is used in any particular case. 


It is held that the Dhatus exist in the Human body 
in two states, v/z., the Sthula or the gross state and 
the Sukshma or the Subtile state, Vayu, however, 
being, according to some authorities, always subtile. 
In their subtile states, they are Ateendriya — that is 
to say, beyond the normal cognition of our senses. 
How then are they known ? They are known, both 
in their normal and abnormal states, by the con- 
sequences of the actions for which they are res- 
ponsible. Thus according to Charaka (Sutrasthan, 
Chapter 18 ), Pittha, Kapha and Vata are respectively 
responsible for the following : — * Vision ' (as opposed 
to perception which is due to Vayu), digestion, 


heat-production, hunger, thirst, softness and suppleness 
of the body, lustre, cheerfulness and intelligence are 
due to Pittha in its normal state. Snehanam, smooth 
working of joints, general stability of the body, general 
build, potency, strength, forbearance, courage, and 
greedlessness are due to Kapha in its normal state. 
Enthusiasm, inspiration and expiration, voluntary actions 
like talking and walking, the due circulation throughout 
the body of its supporting elements like chyle, blood, 
etc,, and the due discharge from the body of its 
excretory products, are due to Vata in its normal state. 
These functions of Vata are further elaborated thus 
by Charaka in the Sutrasthan. Chapter 12: Vayu 
upholds all the supporting constituents and their due 
circulation throughout the body. It exists in five 
forms, viz,, Prana, Udana, Samana, Vyana and Apana. 
it is the urger of all voluntary movements, great and 
small, the producer of restraint as well as concen- 
tration of the mind, the stimulator of all the senses 
and the carrier to the mind of all sense impressions ; 
it holds together the various elements of the body 
in their proper form and maintains the cohesive 
unity of the body as a whole ; it brings about 
speech ; it is the basis of sound and touch, as well 
as the root matter of the organs of hearing and 
touch ; it is the origin of joy and enthusiasm and 


the stimulator of Agni. It is the cause of the Doshas 
getting dried up and the Malas (impurities) being 
thrown out of the body ; it is the cause of division 
in all vessels of the body, both microscopic and 
macroscopic ; it is the cause which makes embryos 
in the womb to take particular forms ; and it stands 
as evidence of the existence of life ; all these are 
the actions of Vayu, when unexcited. When we are 
taken through this catalogue of functions for which 
Vayu, Kapha and Pittha are responsible, a critic will 
perhaps ask — and the question is perfectly legitimate 
— * What is the principle that underlies this classifi- 
cation into Vata, Pittha and Kapha ? To be scientific, 
a classification must be orderly and not chaotic ; I can 
see no intelligible principle or order, in this chaotic 
mixing up of Digestion, Intellection, Greedlessness, 
Respiration, Enthusiasm, and all the rest of it.' Now, 
this, as I said, is perfectly legitimate criticism. How 
is this answered in Ayurveda ? A vital concept that 
has to be understood in furnishing an answer to this 
question is the theory of Thrigunas difficult to grasp 
and still more difficult to explain"; but an attempt 
at exposition of the recondite concept has to be 
made because it is the correlation of Vata, Pittha and 
Kapha with the three gunas Rajas, Satwa and Tamas 
which, when properly understood, serves to bring 


order to the apparent chaos of functions — some physi- 
cal and some mental — for which Vata, Pittha and 
Kapha are held to be responsible. 


According to all schools of Hindu thought, all 

matter " — from the subtlest to the grossest — is 
characterized by the exhibition of the three ‘ Gunas ' 
which are generally translated as ' qualities * — a rather 
.unsatisfactory rendering ; because the term * qualities * 
suggests the idea of a pure abstraction, not the reality 
or substance, that ' Guna ' is in Hindu thought ; the 
notion of * quality ' is applicable only from the stand- 
point of Purusha (or spirit), because they are not 
Purusha’s essence or substance (if we may use such a 
term with reference to Purusha) but merely accesso- 
ries : from the standpoint of Prakriti or ' matter ' 
they are its very substance, or rather the triune 
substance or three substances in one into which 
primal matter differentiated itself when the universe 
first came into manifestation. In this sense they are 
' Dravyas ' or * substances * and not attributes. As 
stated by Wilson in his commentaries on Samkhya 
Karika, ** In speaking of qualities, however, the term 
' Guna ’ is not to be regarded as an unsubstantial 


accidental attribute, but as a substance discernible by 
Soul through the medium of faculties." Though 
described as three * Gunas one Guna alone of 
these is never found isolated from the others — they 
are ever a mutually interdependent ' Unity-in-trinity \ 
Professor Seal speaks of them thus in his Positive 
Sciences of the Hindus (1915 Edition), pages 3 to 
5 : — These Gunas' are conceived to be Reals, 
substantive entities — not, however, as self-subsistent 
or independent entities but as inter-dependent 
moments in every real or substantive existence. 

The Gunas are always uniting, separating, uniting 
again. Everything in the world results from their 
peculiar arrangement and combination. Varying 
quantities of Essence (Satwa), Energy (Rajas) and 
Mass (Tamas), in varied groupings, act on one 
another, and through their mutual interaction and 
interdependence evolve from the indefinite or 
qualitatively indeterminate to the definite or quali- 
tatively determinate. But though co-operating to 
produce the world of effects, these diverse movements 
with diverse tendencies never coalesce. In the 
phenomenal product whatever Energy there is, is due 
to the Element of Rajas, and Rajas alone ; all Matter, 
resistance, stability is due to Tamas, and all conscious 
manifestation to Sattva. The nature of the interaction 


is peculiar, .In order that there may be evolution 
with transformation of Energy, there must be a 
disturbance of equilibrium, a preponderance of either 
Energy or Mass-resistance or Essence over the other 
rnoments. The particular Guna which happens to 
be predominant in any phenomenon becomes mani- 
fest in that phenomenon, and the others become 
latent, though their presence is inferred by their 
effect.” That erudite oriental scholar. Sir John 
Woodrgffe (formerly Judge of the Calcutta High 
Court), in referring to this subject of the interaction 
of Gunas in his Tantra of the Great Liberation " 
(Introduction — pages 31-33) shows clearly how differ- 
ences in Guna-collocations make for difference of 
' temperament ' in different persons — a subject of 
first-rate importance in Ayurveda : — " The term 
' Guna he says, ** is generally translated ^ quality 
a word which is only accepted for default of a better. 
For it must not be overlooked that the three Gunas 
(Sattva, Rajas and Tamas), which are of Prakrit!, 
constitute her very substance. This being so, all 
Nature which issues from her, the Maha-karanasvarupa, 
is called Tri-gunatmaka, and is composed of the same 
Gunas in different states of relation to one another. 
The functions of Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas are to 
reveal, to make active, and to suppress respectively. 


Rajas is the dynamic, as Sattva and Tamas are static 
principles. That is to say, Sattva and Tamas can 
neither reveal nor suppress without being first 
rendered active by Rajas." 

The question has been raised, and answered too, 
by Hindu thinkers as to why the Gunas of ' Matter * 
are three, and three only, neither more nor less ; 
but, a consideration of this question takes us to 
speculations concerning the ' First * or ' Final Causes 
which it is best to leave unattempted here, it is 
enough for us to note that this triplicity of Prakrit! 
(or matter) corresponds to the triplicity of Purusha 
(or spirit), and, that this triple nature, alike of * Matter ' 
and ' Spirit ', is a primal, fundamental and inescap- 
able characteristic — ^the very essence so to speak — of 
every manifested existence ; for, in this phenomenal 
universe, there is neither ' matter * (Prakriti) alone, 
nor * spirit ' (Purusha) alone, but it is ever Prakriti- 
Purusha (spirit-matter) — spirit ever limited by matter, 
and matter, ever ensouled by spirit But, of course, 
" spirit-matter ' is of various grades — minerals, vege- 
tables, animals, human beings, divine beings and so 
on. From the subtlest and highest Deity or Ishvara 
to the lowest and grossest stone, all is '' spirit-matter 
What differentiates us distinctly as human beings 
from the other kingdoms of Nature is not so much 


the fact that our physical bodies have a distinct 
anatomy of our own (even our corpses have that) 
but the fact that Jivas (or Egos or Consciousnesses) 
have reached, in their evolutionary ladder, to a 
particular rung (viz., the human rung), while the Jivas 
(Egos or Consciousnesses) animating the animal and 
other kingdoms of Nature are still at its lower rungs — 
younger brothers of ours, standing at those levels, 
where we ourselves stood yesterday or the days before, 
counting by Nature’s time. Looking at it in this way, 
there is nothing in this world which is not a Jiva or a 
Consciousness or a living being ; everything is living 
matter characterized by the three Gunas — Rajas, 
Satwa and Tamas ; we have Rajasic, Satwic, or Tamasic 
animals, vegetables, foods, drinks, drugs, etc., just 
as we have Rajasic, Satwic, or Tamasic human beings. 
It is all of One Life — all is * spirit-matter ’ (Purusha 
Prakriti). In the light of this teaching, we can under- 
stand why the Ayurvedists hold that the Life of the 
human being, like Life in any other kingdom of 
Nature, must necessarily exhibit a primal and funda- 
mental triplicity, viz.. Rajas, Satwa and Tamas, a 
triplicity which in the living human being is shown 
in Life, Mind and Matter or Vata, Pittha and Kapha 
respectively. In ^the light of this teaching, we may be 
able to follow the statement already made that 


the Dhatu triad, Vata, Pittha and Kapha represent 
in the living individual these universal, inseparable 
Thrigunas (The Guna triad) Rajas, Satwa and Tamas, 
hypostatised, according to preponderance of one or 
other Guna, into Life, Mind and Matter or the Vitality 
principje, the Psychic principle and the Physical matter 
principle in man. Orthodox Western Physiology deals 
only with the last and not as yet with the Vitality 
or Psychic principle ; from this standpoint, its language 
is of one dimension only while the language of 
Ayurveda is of three dimensions as it were. Hence, 
while we may attempt, as stated before, some sort of 
equating at the level of Physical Matter known to 
both Ayurveda and Western Physiology, there is 
nothing as yet in the latter with which things at the 
levels of the vitality and psychic principles of Ayurveda 
could be equated. We frequently find that Vata \s 
equated to Nervous system or Nerve-force, Pittha 
to Digestive and other enzymes and Harmones and 
Heat-regulating Mechanism and so on. At best, such 
equating may work at the Physical level in a number 
of cases ; but it breaks down at other levels and 
in certain cases, even at the Physical level. For 
example, intellection is a function of Pittha represent- 
ing preponderance of Satwa Guna. Intellection in 
Western Physiology would come under Nervous 


system (cerebro-spinal) which is equated' with Vata. 
Here is a case where the equating of Vata and Pittha 
as given above is seen to be untenable. The 
untenability of such equating also arises from the 
fact that the principles of classification of tite things 
equated are of two radically different orders. When 
Western Physiology speaks of the Nervous tissue, 
Mpscular tissue, Epithelial tissue etc., the principle of 
such classification is mainly anatomical based on the 
structure of the component parts. The principle of 
classification into Vata, Pittha and Kapha triads are 
mainly Biological based on functions correlated to the 
three gunas. The futility of attempts to find one to 
one equivalents between terms of these two classi- 
fications may be illustrated by an analogy with 
reference to an attempt as equating each territorial 
division of a city like Madras with a particular division 
of, say, its communal or professional distribution. 
Each territorial division comprehends many communal 
elements — Hindus, Muslims, Parsees, Christians, Hari- 
jans etc., and there may be variations, in this respect, 
from division to division, one division containing all 
the communal elements of Madras while others may 
show varying numbers less than the total number 
of communities found in Madras. Similarly, each 
division may comprehend Teachers, Lawyers, Doctors, 



Artisans etc., representing the various professional 
classes residing in Madras ; and there may be variations 
from division to division varying with the numbers and 
classes of the professional elements resident in each 
division.* Under such circumstances, the question of 
equating the terms of different classifications in terms 
of one to one agreement would be a futile proposition. 
Not dissimilar is the attempt to equate the terms of 
the functional classification of Vata, Pittha, and Kapha 
in terms of the structural classification like the nervous 
system, glandular system, skeletal system and the like. 
It would not be correct to equate the functions of 
Nervous system as a whole to Vata alone or to 
equate functions of the Vata to Nervous system alone 
though this is done by certain scholars engaged in 
comparative study. Vata, Pittha and Kapha are each 
responsible for certain functions of both the Psychic 
and nervous systems ; it is not Vata alone that is 
responsible for functions of the nervous system as a 
whole. So too, Vata, Pitha and Kapha are each 
responsible for certain functions of the digestive 
system ; it is not Pitha alone that is responsible for 
functions of the digestive system as a whole. So 
long as the principles of classifications and even the 
very definition of a human being are so different as 
in the case of Ayurveda and Allopathy it is futile to 


seek equations of exact equivalence or one to one 
agreement. Further, the terminology of Vata, Pitha 
and Kapha is used in relation to the living human 
body only while, in speaking of the same body 
after death — after the human Jiva has withdrawn 
from it — it is said that the body has attained 
Panchatwam (a synonym of death) to indicate that 
the terminology to be used thereafter is the genera* 
Panchabhutic one applicable to all physical matter 
generally and not the terminology of Vata, Pitha 
and Kapha applicable to the living human being. 
Orthodox Western Physiology deals with the human 
body as only a Material entity while to the Ayur- 
vedist the living person is really a Jiva or Spiritual 
entity animating and functioning for a time through 
Material bodies or Koshas such as the Mental, Emo- 
tional and the Physical. Under the Ayurvedic View, 
Jiva functions in and through all Koshas ; and Vata* 
Pitha and Kapha are responsible not only for certain 
physical functions but also for certain Mental and 
Emotional functions classifiable under the Heads of 
Rajas, Satwa and Tamas, It is in this classification 
that we should seek to find the answer to the query 
of the critic noted at the beginning of this topic 
which was to the following effect : — In the list of 
functions of Vata, Pitha and Kapha, there is a chaotic 


mixing-up of physical and mental ' functions. What 
is the principle that brings order into this chaotic 
mix-up?" The answer is that the physical and 
mental functions of Vata come, quite logically and 
understandably, under Rajas," those of Pitha 
under ** Satwa " and those of ** Kapha" under 
** Tamas With this light, we may be able to 
see order where we saw chaos before and also 
to see order at all levels of our lives — physical, 
emotional and mental and not merely at the 


From this it will be seen that Vata, Pitha and Kapha 
correspond to the Panchabhutas, as and when, oper- 
ated by a human Jiva ; the Panchabhutic analysis of 
the body is essentially a physical conception (just as 
the Physicist may say that matter is built up of solids^ 
liquids, gases, etc.), while the Thri-dhatu analysis is 
essentially a Biological or rather a Bio-physical one, 
corresponding to the primal and fundamental triplicity^ 
viz,. Rajas, Satwa and Tamas, exhibited by the human 
Jiva. As regards the correspondences between these 
two classifications (viz,, the Physical and the Biological), 
Akash and Vayu are held to enter into the constitution 


of Vata (which is Rajasic) while Thejas is held to 
enter into the constitution of Pittha (which is Satwic) 
and Prithvi and Ap, of Kapha (which is Tamasic). 

I must also mention here that, according to some 
authorities, the reason for not taking separate note in 
the dhatu category of Akash at one end of the scale 
of Panchamahabhutas and of Prithivi at the other, is 
this ; Akash is unmodified and all-pervading, while 
Prithvi is the last of the five Mahabhutic states of 
matter, and there is no further modification beyond 
it ; from the standpoint of Dhatu interaction and 
equilibrium, the due maintenance of which is the 
concern of Ayurveda, it is not necessary to take 
5eparate note of things which are not modified ; 
hence it is that Akash is grouped with Vayu while 
Prithivi goes with Ap. Be this as it may, we may 
envisage the thridhatus Vata, Pitha and Kapha as the 
three Bio-physical elements, or corpuscles charged 
with human life, and corresponding respectively to 
Rajas, Satwa and Tamas.s^ They stand, in the living 
body, for three groups of substances, the individuals 
of which, however much they may differ from one 
another, possess' nevertheless certain characteristics 
common to every member of the group ; thus, Vata 
corpuscles are ail predominantly Rajasic, Pitha corpus- 
cles, all predominantly Satwic and Kapha corpuscles. 


all predominantly Tamasic. We may therefore describe 
Vata, Pittha and Kapha thus : 

Vata is that primal constituent of the living body, 
whose structure is Akash-Vayu, and whose function is 
Rajasic, it being concerned with the production of 
those physical and mental processes which are pre- 
dominantly Rajasic (activating or dynamic) in nature : 
hence, as has been noted in the catalogue of the 
functions of Thri-dhatus discussed already, the pre- 
sence of Vata is to be inferred in such mental 
phenomena as exhibition of enthusiasm, concentration, 
etc., as also in such physical phenomena as respiration, 
circulation, voluntary action of every kind, excretion 
and so on. It will be seen that many of these physical 
phenomena are included among those which Western 
Physiologists would assign primarily to the activities of 
the nervous system (both cerebro-spinal and Autono- 

Pittha is that primal constituent of the living body, 
whose structure i? Thejas apd whose function is Satwic, 
it being concerned with the production of those 
physical and mental processes which are predominantly 
Satwic (balancing or transformative) in nature ; hence 
the presence of Pittha is to be inferred (vide catalogue 
of functions of the Thri-dhatu given before) in 
such mental phenomena like intellection and clear 


conception, as also in such physical phenomena as 
Digestion, Assimilation, Heat-production and so on ; 
it will be seen that many of these physical phenomena 
are among those which Western Physiologists would 
include under the activities of the Thermogenetic and 
nutritional systems (including Thermogenesis and the 
activities of glandular or secretory structures — 
especially of the Endocrines or Ductless glands, whose 
Internal Secretions or Hormones are now known to 
be of such vital importance in Digestion, Assimilation, 
Tissue-building and Metabolism generally) 

Kapha is that primal constituent of the living body, 
whose structure is Ap-Prithvi and whose function is 
Tamasic, it being concerned with the production of 
those physical and mental processes which are 
predominantly Tamasic (conserving or stabilising) in 
nature ; hence the presence of Kapha is to be 
inferred in such mental phenomena as exhibition 
of courage, forbearance, etc., as also in such physical 
phenomena as the promotion of bodily strength and 
build, integration of the structural elements of the 
body into stable structures, the maintenance of 
smooth working of joints, and so on. It will be seen 
that many of these physical phenomena are among 
those which western physiologists would include under 
the activities of the skeletal and anabolic systems. 


but, it is difficult to interpret in terms of Western 
Physiology, that all-important function of Kapha, which 
is concerned in protecting the tissues from being 
consumed, as it were, by the internal ' fires ' of 
Pittha, if they were not kept in check by the * waters ' 
of Kapha, it seems probable that the problem of 
explaining how the internal * fires ‘ in the living body 
were ever kept burning bright, though surrounded 
always by the * waters ' of the body, exercised the 
minds of the Hindu Scientists, just as, since the 
times of Lavoisier, the minds of Western Scientists 
are being exercised over the analogous problem of 
explaining how, at the comparatively low temperature 
of about 37® C, physiological oxidations are being con- 
tinually carried on in the living body, at a com- 
paratively rapid rate, while, outside the living body, 
the same materials are consumed or oxidised with 
extreme slowness. 

There are many things now happening in the 
world of modern Science and modern Medicine which 
may make us, unless we are careful, to jump to 
hasty conclusions on the basis of a few striking 
resemblances ; but, such temptations must be resisted 
while the critical study and investigation of recorded 
facts and observations must go on with all' possible 
diligence. In illustration of what 1 mean to convey. 


1 may consider here a pointer in relation to the 
very topic of the Thridhatu theory that 1 have 
discussed above, in the light of what is referred 
to in the latest books on modern Physiology as ‘*The 
Humoral transmission of Nerve impulse". 

Sarangadhara, a renowned Ayurvedic authority with 
a flair for expressing Scientific facts through impress- 
ive poetic imagery speaks of Pitha and Kapha 
humors as (Pangu Lame individuals) dependent for 
their movement from place to place on the lead 
given by Vata dhatu and journeying to whatever 
place Vata leads them. This is, of course, in perfect 
consonance with the ancient teaching that Rajas 
is responsible everywhere for movement of every kind 
and that as Vata is the Dhatu in the living human 
being which is preponderatingly Rajasic in nature, it 
is the Vata humour that brings about the move- 
ment of every kind and degree including the trans- 
mission and circulation of bodily humours, body 
fluids and bodily elements of every kind. 

Professors of modern Physiology have now begun 
to speak of ** Humoral " transmission of nerve impulses 
without the least suggestion of the term '' Humoral " 
being unacceptable to them as when the Ancient 
Thridhatu theory was spoken of as the exploded or 
discarded humoral " theory. On the contrary, they 


say that the evidence is now very complete that 
nerves do not act on the tissues directly but 
through the Agency of Chemical or “humoral 
substances'' like Acetyl-choline, Adrenaline and the 
like. Acetyl-choline is released at the nerve-endings 
of ordinary Somatic nerves. It is also liberated in the 
region of Motor nerve-endings or plates ; and it 
now seems likely that many of the phenomena 
noted in relation to muscles are explicable as due to 
release and accumulation of Acetyl -choline at nerve 
endings. Some sympathetic nerves have also been 
shown to show a chemical or humoral substance, 
sympathin, which has an action almost identical with 
that of Adrenaline and the opposite action of Acetyl- 
choline. Humoral transmission may also occur within 
the nervous system itself ; for, if fluid is passed 
through the superior cervical ganglion and the sym- 
pathetic stimulated, Acetyl-choline is released into the 
perfusion fluid. Every organ of the body over which 
we have no voluntary control appears to be supplied 
with two sets of fibres — ^from the sympathetic and 
the parasympathetic — which have opposite functions. 
The sympathetic or accelerator group is termed 
Katabolic (according to Gaskell's nomenclature) as 
they are concerned with general increase of work 
and utilisation of energy in the various parts of the 


body while the Parasympathetic group is termed 
Anabolic as it is more intimately concerned with 
the processes which take place during bodily rest* 
Here then we have the idea of two systems — the 
sympathetic and parasympathetic — with opposite func- 
tions, one being Katabolic and the other Anabolic. In 
either case, the resulting action is^ due to release of 
certain humoral substances of two groups with 
opposite properties namely the adrenaline group 
released by stimulation of the sympathetic or Katabolic 
nerves and the Acetyl-choline group released by the 
Parasympathetic or Anabolic nerves. 

From this, it is tempting to jump to the hasty 
conclusion that the two classes of humoral substances 
of Allopathy with opposite properties are equatable 
to the two humours of Ayurveda with opposite 
properties viz., Pitha (the Katabolic or breaking- 
down humour) and Kapha (the Anabolic or building-up 
humour) which are both Pangu or lame humours in 
the language of Sarangadhara, their transmissions and 
releases at any point or points being dependent on 
the humoral transmission of the stimulated Nerve- 
impulse equatable with Vata-activity. Thus, we may 
be tempted to conclude, is the ancient Ayurvedic 
teaching justified by the latest findings of modern 
Allopathy ; but, this temptation must be resisted ; 


for, the comparisons and resemblances are far too 
superficial and the recorded observations and experi- 
ments confined so far too limited a field to justify 
any such general conclusions being drawn, 


Persons are broadly marked off from one another 
into three classes or groups, W2., Vatala, Pitthala, 
Shleshmala, according as the type of their inherited 
Thridhatu-constitution shows respectively a predomi- 
nance of Vata, Pittha or Shleshma ; those Dhatus 
which are not predominant may be either co-operant 
or latent, so that we have a number of sub-groups, 
each with its own type of inherited Thri-dhatu 
balance ; then again, depending upon quantitative 
variations, we have many ways in which Thri-dhatu 
equilibrium is possible ; it is due to such differences 
in the constitution of the inherited dhatu balance that 
every person somehow differs from every other 
person, although all are classifiable under one or 
other of the three primal and fundamental groups 
spoken of above, Wz., persons of Vata, Pittha and 
Kapha prakritis, or * temperaments ’ as the English 
rendering has it. In Ayurveda, it is of vital importance 
to know the Prakfiti or * Temperament * of every 


person, because ail his life-activities, both in health 
and disease, have to be judged and adjusted with 
reference to his own type of inherited dhatu-constitu- 
tion ; and we cannot intelligently adjust his Nurture 
(including his nutrition and environment) unless we 
know his Nature or Prakriti. For the proper diagnosis 
of a person's Prakriti, a careful examination (both 
physical and mental) is necessary ; the characteristic 
features of each group are set down at length in 
works on Ayurveda ; but, for our present purpose, 
it is not necessary to go into those details; it is 
enough to know that it is a cardinal principle of 
Ayurveda that all human beings are broadly classifiable 
under the three primal groups of Vatalas, Pitthalas 
and Shleshmalas, according as the constitution of 
their inherited dhatu-triads show a predominance of 
Vata, Pittha or Kapha substance. That leaders of Medi- 
cal thought in the West have now begun to think along 
similar lines may be gathered from the following extract 
from the writings of a distinguished British Physician, 
Dr. Leonard Williams, which reads strikingly * Ayur- 
vedic ' even to the very notion of a person's inherited 
features and constitutional peculiarities being depen- 
dent on the peculiar mode of mixing or combining 
of his inherited * humours' or * essences ' as he calls 
them : — While the time is not yet ripe for dogmatic 


statement, there is a large mass of evidence which 
goes to show that the ductless glands, the endocrines, 
with their essences, their hormones as they are called, 
constitute the mainspring of this surprising mechanism. 
Nor does the importance of the endocrines stop 
here ; for, according to the exact proportion in which 
their essences are admixed in your blood, you are 
tall or short, dark or fair, phlegmatic or choleric, 
saint or sinner, sexual, homd-sexual or sexless, male 
or female.” (British Journal of Psychology, Medical 
Section, Volume II, page 262.) Then again, we have 
Prof. Goddard stating thus in his "Psychology of 
the Normal and the Sub-Normal ” (page 228) : — 
"Cannon’s and Crile's discoveries and other work 
with the ductless glands made it entirely possible that, 
vyhile we may not be dealing with blood, yellow bile, 
and whatever fluids the ancients thought of under the 
name of black bile and phlegm, we may nevertheless 
be dealing with such fluids as are secreted by adrenal 
glands, thyroid glands, the thymus and the other 
glands of internal secretion. It would seem quite 
probable then that we are to think of different indi- 
viduals as having inherited different constitutions in 
these particulars. ’ So too we may cite evidence in 
support of the ‘ humoral ' theory from the large mass 
of facts that have now gathered round the subject of 


the Transfusion treatrment of haemorrhage, shock etc,, 
and the classification of persons according to their 
types of blood-grouping, depending on their posses- 
sion of certain humoral substances or factors (includ- 
ing the recently discovered Rh. factor) all stated to 
be inherited according to the Laws of Genetics, 


Metabolic changes, like all life activities in general, 
are brought about, maintained and regulated by Vata, 
Pittha and Kapha ; we may consider first the pro- 
cesses by which the food ingested is transformed 
into various tissue-elements or ' Dhatus as they 
are called. It has to be noticed here that as 
stated before, Ayurvedists use the same name, viz., 
Dhatu (literally * support') to designate both the 
primary Dhatus Vata, Pittha and Kapha, as also the 
secondary ones, viz., Rasa, Rakta, and other ele- 
mentary tissues, which we are going to consider now. 
The exact sense in which the word is used in any 
particular case can be easily made out by the context. 
It may also be mentioned here that these secondary 
Dhatus are also called ' Dushyas ' (or Vitiables), so- 
called because they can be vitiated by the primary 
Dhatus (Vata, Pittha and Kapha), which when looked 


at from this standpoint of causing vitiation are spoken 
of as * Doshas ’ (literally faults). We may now go 
on to consider how food is transformed into various 
Dhatus ; the first step is the conversion of food into 
Rasa dhatu ; this takes place in Amashaya, Grahani 
and Pakwashaya (Region of Stomach, including Pylorus 
and Duodenum) ; the agents concerned in the pro- 
duction of Rasa from food are Vata, Pittha and 
Kapha. Vata in the form of Prana Vayu sends food 
down the gullet into the stomach, whence after 
certain changes it is sent down the Grahani into 
Amashaya ; in these digestive chambers food is acted 
upon by Pittha (Pachaka Pittha) in the menstruum 
of Kapha present there and gets converted into Rasa 
(Chyle), which contains, in essence, all the ingredients 
necessary for the formation of the various tissue- 
elements of the body. The essence of food becomes 
the Rasa Dhatu, while its dross is rejected as Mala. 
In a similar way we get by the repeated action of 
Vata, Pittha and Kapha, the transformation of Rasa 
(Chyle) into Rakta (Blood), Rakta into Mamsa 
(Muscle), Mamsa into Medhas (Fat), Medhas into 
Asthi (Bone), Asthi into Majja (Marrow) and Majja 
into Shukra (Reproductive elements). Rasa is driven 
by Vayu to the heart and then to the liver and 
spleen, where the appropriate pre-rakta constituents 


of Rasa are acted upon by Agni or Pittha (Ranjaka 
Colour-giving Pittha) in the menstruum, of Kapha and 
becomes transformed into Rakta ; this again is acted 
upon by Vayu and Agni (Mamsagni) in the menstruum 
of Kapha, when transformation into Mamsa takes 
place ; this process is repeated till, by successive 
transformations, we get Asthi, Majja and Shukra. It is 
also held that every one of the Dhatus from Rasa 
to Shukra elaborate, during the course of its metabolic 
transformation, a special subtle essence, which goes 
to form the Ojas Dhatu which is, as it were, the 
quintessence of all the seven Dhatu essences. The 
presence of Ojas is of the very essence of our life- 
activities ; and if the successive metabolic transfor- 
mations that end in the production of Shukra Dhatu 
(the Reproductive Elements) are not properly formed, 
then, the Ojas-formation suffers, and life-activities 
themselves may cease altogether from lack of Ojas, 
if the metabolic transformations cease to be per- 
formed for an unduly long time. Each of the 
Sapta dhatus is thus seen not only to take from the 
common stock whatever is necessary for its own 
normal life but also to give to that same common 
stock its own best and highest essence (Prasadam) as 
its special and necessary contribution for the normal 
life of the organism as a whole. The Sine qua non for 


the healthy life of each individual dhatu is that it should 
contribute its best to the healthy life and common 
good of all the Dhatus constituting the whole of the 
organism. Such is the Law governing the life and 
health of each individual Dhatu — ^that it should seek 
and find its own highest good by working for the 
highest and common good of all the Dhatus con- 
stituting the organism as a whole. This is only the 
application in the field of human organism of a most 
beneficent and universaily-appticable Law (Dharma) 
that the highest good of the part is secured automati- 
cally when that part and all other parts co-operate 
to work for the highest good of the whole — a 
beautiful thought reminding us of a memorable 
teaching of our ancient scriptures that the due 
performance of Sacrifice (Yagnya) by each individual 
is the Law (Dharma) which governs the highest good 
of all (Lokasangraha). Where each Dhatu or part so 
works as to contribute its best as its special sacrificial 
offering, joyously and dutifully laid at the altar for 
the worship of the common good of the whole, its 
work is verily its worship and its sacrificial offering is 
returned to it blessed, and sanctified for its highest 
good. Such is the Law or Dharma. This is good 
Physiology as well as good Philosophy and sound 


As far as I ktnow, there is as yet nothing in 
Western Medicine corresponding to the above-noted 
conception of the metabolisnn of the Sapta Dhatus 
leading to their orderly evolution from Rasa to Rakta, 
Rakta to Mamsa and so on to Sukra and Ojas. It 
may, however, be noted that the conception of a 
special Dhatwgni (Mamsagni, Medogni) existing in each 
Dhatu and becoming activated by Vata during its 
metabolic processes in the substrate or menstruum of 
Kapha bears some resemblance to the conception of 
Endo-enzymes as envisaged in the following extract 
from pages 1022 to 1026 of Howeirs Text book of 
Physiology — (1946 Edition),: In Life, Endo-enzymes 
play their part within the bounds of the cells in which 
they are contained and probably constitute the chief 
means through which are effected the metabolic 
processes that characterise living matter ... In 
many cases, it can be shown that the Enzyme exists 
within the cell in an inactive form ; and requires the 
Co-operation of some other substance before it is 
capable of effecting its normal reaction. In such 
cases, the second substance (Activator) is said to 
activate the enzyme. ... In some cases, it may 
be supposed that after the enzyme combines with 
the substrate, further effect upon the substrate de- 
pends on the activity of a Co-enzyme.'" 



The Ancient wisdom of India has a vast literature 
relating to the subject of ‘‘ Prana the Life or Vitality 
principle which with Mind or Psychic principle and 
Matter or Physical principle correspond to Rajas, 
Satwa and Tamas respectively, characteristic of Prakrit* 
in all its myriad forms of manifested existence. 
Life is one aspect of the universe of which Form is 
the other. The term ** Prana*' has many meanings 
and shades of meanings which are to be understood 
from the context in which the term is used. A recent 
writer has catalogued one hundred and one senses in 
which the term is used in the Samhita literature alone 
of the Vedas excluding the Brahmanas, Aranyakas and 
the Upanishads. This may serve to indicate the 
vastness and richness of the literature available on the 
subject. In a general sense. Prana is, according to 
Vedanta Darshana, a fundamental or basic principle 
co-existent with Spirit and Matter and bringing them 
into intimate and inseparable relationship with each 
other at all levels of their manifold existence. The 
Yoga Darshana uses the term in a special sense when 
it speaks of Prana and Pradhana as constituting man. 
In this sense, Prana is spirit or the Self with such 
envelopes of matter as it has identified with itself 


at any time while Pradhana is non-self or Matter which 
can be put aside and viewed objectively. As the 
Yogi progresses from stage to stage, Prana and 
Pradhana show changes in their content so that the 
Self identifies itself with less and less of enveloping 
matter and is able to put aside more and more 
of it into Pradhana for being viewed objectively as 
not-self. It is however, in Prana as it is manifest 
in Pranamayakosha that the interest of the Ayurvedist 
specially lies. According to Vedanta Darshana, the 
Jivatman (the Self or Soul) in man is clothed in 
five koshas or sheaths of matter of which the matter 
of the gross physical body — Annamayakosha (literally 
Food-filled body) is the densest with Pranamayakosha 
(Prana-filled body) coming next to it with matter in a 
comparatively sukshma (subtle or ethereal) state* 
Prana from Pranamayakosha pervades every part* 
of the living physical body or Annamayakosha as 
Electricity pervades every part of a live wire. If 
Electricity ceases to pervade the wire, it ceases to 
be a live wire. So, if Prana is withdrawn from or 
ceases to pervade the living physical body, it ceases 
to be alive. Orthodox Physiology in the West is yet 
in the stage of presenting automatic resistance to 
the acceptance, even on the basis of a working 
hypothesis, any theory of Prana or vitality principle, 


lest such acceptance should mean the acceptance of 
the theory of Vitalism or Vital action which is still 
taboo in orthodox physiology. It still cherishes the 
hope that vital action will someday be explained in 
terms of physics and chemistry tho' it cannot help 
admitting it cannot deny the existence of a property 
of living matter which has not yet been brought 
into line with the known chemical and physical forces 
and which sometimes operates, actually neutralising 
such known forces. (Vide — p. 299 of Handbook of 
Physiology and Biochemistry, by Prof. Mcdowall — 
1946 Edition). Under such circumstances, there 
seems to be no common basis to proceed any further 
with the attempt to present the teachings of the 
Ancient wisdom relating to Prana in the language of 
^modern Science. 

There is, however, one topic in this connection 
which may be of special interest to our Surgeons ; 
and it is the one on Marmas or vital areas which 
are like special reservoirs of Prana as in the case of 
the three Principal Marmas — Hridayam, Shiras and 
Vasthi or like junctions of Pranic currents as in 
the case of the other 107 Marmas described in 
Sushruta and other standard works of Ayurveda. The 
importance of these Marmas to the surgeon is that 
cuts and injuries to those vita! spots are attended 


with serious and sometimes even fatal consequences. 
The surgeon is therefore warned to remember that 
there are some Marmas which the Surgeon's knife 
should never touch, some which may be touched at 
one inch distance and some, at two inch distance 
and so on. This is a teaching which admits of crucial 
testing by surgeons interested in the subject. 


In Ayurveda, Anatomy and Physiology are generally 
treated together under the heading of * Shareera ' ; 
the relation between them is undoubtedly very inti- 
mate, they being the two limbs of Biology. Though, 
for the convenience of description, the study of 
structure (or Anatomy) is in Western Medicine dealt 
with separately from the study of Function (or Physi- 
ology), still it is only when they are studied together 
as the two limbs of Biology that the real value of 
each to the other and to Medicine as a whole is 
best appreciated. 

The past and the present of Ayurvedic Anatomy is 
so very well reviewed by the late Dr. Kaviraj Gana- 
natha Sen in the introduction to his Pratyaksha 
Shareeram (a work on human anatomy written in 
Sanskrit) that 1 cannot do better than cite the 


following extracts from his masterly review : — ^ That 
the subject of Anatomy formed part of a preliminary 
course in Medicine and Surgery in ancient India admits 
of little doubt. Nay, a short course of Anatomy was 
once held a necessary adjunct in the intellectual outfit 
of even a general student, so that writers of the 
Puranas and Dharma Shastras found it expedient to 
include short discourses on the subject in many of 
their works. Anatomical discourses are also found In 
the hoary Vedas and in the aged Nirukta of Yaska, 
as also in old Buddhistic literature. In the ancient 
medical works of Sushruta and Bagbhata, both major 
and minor surgical operations, such as Laparotomy 
(opening the abdomen), Amputation of limbs, Em- 
bryotomy, operations of the intestines. Lithotomy 
and various plastic operations have been described 
with such precision that the anatomical knowledge 
which this presupposes could not have been of a 
mean order. Clear references to the circulation of 
blood occur in the works of Charaka and Bagbhata. 
Dissection of the human body has been enthusiastically 
recommended by Sushruta and Bagbhata and there 
can be no doubt that the practice was in vogue in the 
palmy days of India’s intellectual sunshine. As 
Dr. Hoernie has very aptly remarked — * Probably it 
will come as a surprise to many, as it did to myself, 


to discover the amount of anatomical knowledge 
which is disclosed in the works of the earliest medical 
writers of India. Its extent and accuracy are sur- 
prising, when we allow for their early age — probably 
the sixth century before Christ and their peculiar 
methods of definition Ever since the invasions of 
the Greeks (327 B.C,), much of the past glory was 
lost The real wonder is — how so much has yet 
survived. ... In Anatomy, the loss has been 
very heavy. All original works having been lost, 
Hindu Anatomy now survives only in a few meagre 
and desultory dissertations in the so-called ^ Anatomi- 
cal sections ’ (Sharirasthana) of the larger Ayurvedic 
works now extant. The Tantric Literature, which 
elaborately describes the Brain, the Spinal Cord, the 
Sympathetic chains of Ganglia and the different 
Plexuses of nerves (Nadi) is now shrouded in so much 
mystery that few people suspect that there is such a 
world of anatomical facts concealed in it."' TKe best 
way of bringing Ayurvedic Anatomy up to date is to 
do what Dr. Kaviraj Gananatha Sen himself has done, 
v/z,, to re-edit and re-write Ayurvedic Shareeram 
in the light of modern Western Anatomy, which has 
now been rendered precise and comprehensive, by 
the patient labours of a succession of devoted anato- 
mists. The Descriptive Anatomy of the West may 

well be treated as a supplement to or commentary 
on the brief or summarised Texts of the existing 
Ayurvedic Literature while there are many teachings 
in Ayurvedic Shareeram (Anatomy and physiology) 
which may be considered to continue from or begin 
where the Western teaching ends. I venture to urge 
that Western scientists may make an understanding 
study of the ‘ Chakras ' (centres of consciousness), 
the Pranas, the ‘ Marmas ’ (Vital points), and the many 
other Ayurvedic details given in our ancient Literature. 
It seems to me that here, as elsewhere, there is 
vast scope for both Ayurveda and Western Medicine, 
to exchange thoughts so that each may learn from 
the other what the other can teach. 



In the consideration of the Panchabhuta theory of 
Matter, I compared the subjective analysis of Ayurveda 
with the objective analysis of Western Science and 
pointed out that the subjective analysis has the 
advantage, specially from a philosophical standpoint, 
of having a complete theory adequate for all time 
(the attribute of Sanatana). I also pointed out that 
while the Western analysis which divided Matter into 
82 chemical elements till a few years ago had to go 
on changing this number as new elements came to 
light from time to time so that the number stands 
now at 94. Hindu thought analysed Matter into five 
divisions which would prove adequate for all time 
needing no change from time to time and in one or 
other division of which ready-made accommodation 
existed not only for all things known in the past and 
the present but also for those that may become 
known hereafter. It was also pointed out that the 


enunciation of theories having this quality of Sanatana 
— adequacy for all time — is a general feature of 
Hindu Analytical thought which meets us all throughout 
our studies. The subject of Etiology provides u$ 
with a striking illustration of this characteristic feature 
of Hindu Analytical thought. That causation of diseases 
is by agencies outside of oneself is common ground 
between Etiology of both Ayurveda and Allopathy ; 
but the analysis of such agencies by Ayurveda and 
Allopathy shows the characteristic features differentiat- 
ing the two view points. An analogy may perhaps 
serve a useful purpose in this context. Let us suppose 
we wish to classify the various invasions of India ; we 
may do it in • two ways : in one we may classify the 
invasions as those by either land or sea or air ; in 
the other we may classify them as those by the 
Greeks, the Scythians, the Muhammadans, the 
Europeans and so on. The first classification is ail- 
comprehensive and applicable for all time ; because, 
ail invasions must take place in one or other of these 
three modes — singly or combined ; but, the second 
classification is applicable only to the present and the 
past and that too, only so far as it is known ; and if 
there are new invasions in the future by people other 
than those given above, the list will have to be added 
to, whereas, in the first case, all future invasions will 


naturally go in under one or other of the three 
categories that have been laid down once for all and 
for all time as it were. This is the complete method 
followed by Ayurveda in its Etiological analysis while 
the Allopathic analysis follows the second method of 
the analogy given above which does not give any 
assurance of completeness or adequacy as does the 
first because its contents will have to be supplemented 
by additions if, in the future, there are invasions 
other than by peoples noted in the analogy given 


Etiology or the causation of disease, according to 
Ayurveda, may be summarized thus ' : — Health is 
when a person's ' Dhatu-equipoise ' is normal, and 
ill-health, when it is abnormal ; Vata, Pittha and Kapha, 
which are spoken of as Dhatus when in their normal 
equipoise are referred to as Doshas (Faults) when 
their equipoise becomes abnormal ; because in this 
condition of abnormality, they vitiate or cause faults 
in the secondary Dhatus like Rasa, Rakta, etc. The 

^ For much that is contained in the following, I am in- 
debted to the authoritative evidence (written in Sanskrit) of 
the (late) Venerable Swami Lakshmi Ramaswamiji Acharya of 
the Government Ayurvedic College, Jaipur. 


essence and sine qua non of ill-health or disease is 
the abnormality of Dhatu equipoise — Dosha Vaishamya 
— which is caused by certain extrinsic causes like 
Mithya Ahara and Vihara (faulty diets and practices) 
and certain intrinsic causes coming under the category 
of Guna Vaishamya (disturbance of the normal equi* 
poise of the Gunas — Rajas, Satwa and Thamas). The 
analysis of all possible causes of Disease are sum- 
marised in certain time-honoured aphorisms, admirably 
concise and precise and yet highly expressive and 
all-comprehensive. Such aphorisms are liable to suffer 
badly in translations. Further, we have to approach 
the subject in the same way that the Ancients ap- 
proached it, if‘We are to understand the full significance 
of the phraseology of these aphorisms which may 
sound quaint in the ears of those used only to modern 
phraseology. The key-words used in these aphorisms 
for classifying all possible causes of every kind and 
degree — all causes which are already known as well 
as those which may become known hereafter — are 
the following : 

(i) Asathmyendriyartha Samyoga 
g^r [) — Incompatible correlation of Indriyas (senses) 

with their Artha (objects). — Ayurvedists explain this as 
follows : Bhautika Dravyas (Panchabhutic substances 
or Physical objects) cannot make for health or 


ill-health without coming into contact with our bodies. 
Such contacts can occur in only five ways- — that is 
through the five senses (Indriyas) which are our 
normal channels for contacting all objects already 
known as well as those which become known here- 
after. These five ways of contact of Indriyas with 
external objects can show abnormalities of three 
kinds W2. Atiyoga (excessive Degree of correlation), 
Heenayoga (Defective degree of correlation) and 
Mithya Yoga (Correlation of faulty quality). The 
underlying idea of this classification may be stated 
thus : all external objects that can invade our bodies 
to cause diseases — whether they be physical agents, 
chemical substances, microbes, parasites or any other 
— can enter our bodies in only five ways — through 
the channels of our five senses, and each of those 
five ways or modes of entry may exhibit three varia- 
tions from the standpoint of their capacity to cause 
diseases viz. Variations from normal by way of excess 
(Atiyoga), defect (Heenayoga) or qualitative change 
(Mithya-Yoga). Under this classification, diseases 
caused, say, by blinding light falling on the retina 
and injuring the eye, deafening sounds falling on 
the ears and injuring the ears, foods and drinks 
taken in injurious excess etc., would be described 
as diseases caused by Atiyoga (excessive contact or 


correlation of light, sound, foods and drinks, etc., 
with the senses of sight, sound, taste, smell and 
touch.) Similarly, diseases caused by abnormal 
quantitative defects instead of by abnormal increases 
as in the examples given above would be described 
as diseases caused by Heenayoga (defective con- 
tact or correlation) of light, sound, foods and 
drinks etc., with senses of sight, sound, taste etc. 
Diseases caused by injurious rays, foods and drinks, 
etc., would be described as caused by Mithya Yoga 
(qualitatively abnormal correlations or contacts) of 
sight, foods and drinks etc., with sense of light, 
taste etc. 

(ii) Prajnaparadha (qflq?:ig ) — Faults of under- 
standing, also known as Karma. The phenomena 
coming under this category are classified under three 
heads, viz. : Shareeram (relating to body), Manasam 
(relating to mind), and Vachikam (relating to speech) 
and these become causes of disease when faulty 
understanding causes excessive, defective or pervert- 
ed correlations of such phenomena (Atiyoga, 
Heenayoga and Mithyoga) resulting in abnormality of 

(iii) Parinama (q^OIiq) also known as Kala. This is 
quite a technical word which has reference to seasonal 
and other phenomena governed by the time-factor 


(Kala). If, by excess, defect or perversion (Atiyoga, 
Heenayoga, or Mithya Yoga) they become abnormal, 
then, they may cause disease, by way of causing Dosha 
Vaishamya (abnormality of normal * dosh-equilibrium '). 
Thus, ill-health may be caused by such agencies of 
abnormally severe or mild seasons, the prevalence 
of winter conditions during summer or of rain during 
the non-rainy season and so on. This category also 
includes karmic causes which are stated to cause 
manifestation of disease at the time of Karma Vipaka 
— the time when the Karmic seeds become mature or 
ripened by Parinama. 

(iv) Guna Vaishamya (Abnormality in the equili- 
brium of the Gunas — a term which has been already 
explained*) Of the three Gunas, Satwas, Raja and 
Tamas, it is held that only Rajas (stimulator) and 
Tamas (inhibitor) can become Doshas (or Faults) while 
Satwa (Balance or Harmony) is always a Guna and 
never a Dosha. This category has reference to 
mental doshas (Manasa Dosha). Cupidity, cruelty, 
anger, rage, jealousy, indolence, self-indulgence etc., 
are mental Doshas or Faults. The time has gone by 
when some well-meaning students of Western Medi- 
cine used to say that Ayurveda unscientifically mixes 
up Ethics and Medicine in laying down, as it does, 
that unethical conduct (for example, getting into a 


fit of anger, rage or jealousy) was one of the 
causative factors of disease. Modern research is now 
confirming the ancient teaching ; we now know that 
feelings like anger and rage can set up, and be set up 
by abnormal conditions of the physical body. Emotion 
causes ’* says Crile '' a more rapid exhaustion than is 
caused by exertion or by trauma except extensive 
mangling of tissue, or any toxic stimulus except the 
perforation of Viscera.'* '' Cannon has shown " says 
Professor Goddard, ** that a stimulation of the adrenal 
gland produces all the phenomena of anger and rage, 
and conversely, the production of anger and rage 
by any other method affects the secretion of the 
adrenal glands. . . . There are a number of other such 
glands . . . There is no reason to doubt that some, if 
not all of these other glands may have similar relation 
to emotion. It would therefore appear that far from 
ridiculing our Ancients as persons who knew no 
better than to mix up health and ill-health with the 
practice and non-practice of the social and moral 
virtues, modern science itself may well be prepared to 
preach an '^ethicaj " sermon, somewhat in the follow- 
ing 'strain: If you habitually allow yourself to get 

into fits of anger or rage, the result will be, among 
other things, unhealthy stimulation of your adrenal 
glands, leading perhaps to neurasthenia. If you 


habitually get into temper as often as you can, you 
will surely have to pay the penalty for it in the shape of 
dyspepsia and such other troubles. If on the contrary 
you are ever affectionate and cheerful, radiating sun- 
shine wherever you go, you may safely trust to your 
own glands — both the ductless and the ducted, to keep 
you ever young and in radiant health. In brief, judged 
-even from the most materialistic standpoint of sheer 
physical well-being it will pay you exceedingly well to 
practise altruism, sobriety, cheerfulness, affection and 
other social and moral virtues, while avoiding like 
poison, passion, hatred, jealousy, anger, rage and 
other vices. Go about doing good, avoiding evil, and 
practising Sadachara (right social and moral con- 
duct) as Nithyakarma (daily routine) and I promise 
you the very best of health and therefore of 


As regards the Allopathic analysis of causes of 
disease, it looks at the invasion of the body by disease 
— causing agencies from an objective standpoint and 
groups them under certain categories suggested by 
causes of disease known at the time of grouping. 
When hitherto unknown causes become known at 


any time, the grouping of categories will have to be 
changed if the newly known cause or causes could 
not go under any of the categories of the existing 
grouping. Thus, the grouping of causes of diseases 
as framed in days before the microbic causation of 
disease became known, became inadequate after it 
became known.. Similar inadequacy resulted when 
the causation of diseases by excess or deficiency of 
Vitamines and Endocrine secretions became known. 
Even the latest available grouping given in “A Text-" 
book of Pathology ” by Prof. William Boyd (page 17 
of 1 945 edition) cannot now be considered adequate 
or complete. The following is the grouping as given 
in the above reference: — (1) congenital or hereditary 
tendencies or defects with which may be included the 
difficult subject of constitution ; (2) insufficiency of 
food and oxygen, including those conditions known as 
deficiency diseases; (3) Infections by the various 
pathogenic micro-organisms ; (4) animal parasites ; (5) 
trauma; (6) physical irritants; and (7) chemical 
poisons. The reason why this grouping cannot now 
be considered adequate or complete is that it cannot 
take in those emotional and mental phenomena 
which, as shown above, have now been defin- 
itely established to be causative factors of certain 



For comparing the Etiological analysis of Ayurveda 
and Allopathy in regard to disease — causing agencies 
invading the body, i gave, at the beginning of this 
topic, the analogy of invasions of India being classified 
in two ways viz., either as invasions by land, sea or air 
or as invasions by Greeks, Scythians, Muslims etc. I 
also said that the Ayurvedic analysis is on the lines of 
the former classification. Its analysis of all possible 
disease-causes invading the body under the categories 
of Indriya-Artha-Samyoga, Prajnaparadha, Parinama 
and Guna Vaishamya is therefore complete, compre- 
hensive and adequate for ail time, just as the classifi- 
cation of invasions of India by Land, Sea and Air is 
complete, comprehensive and adequate for all time, 
as all invasions in the past, present or future must 
come under one or other of these categories singly 
or combined. The Allopathic analysis given above 
is like the second classification of invasion of India 
given in our analogy namely invasions by Greeks, 
Scythians, Muslims — a classification which would 
necessarily prove incomplete or inadequate if new 
invasions of India occur in future by people other than 
those noted in the analogy. So too the Allopathic 


analysis would necessarily become inadequate when 
new causes of disease not coming under existing 
grouping become known. The only difficulty that may 
stand in the way of the logical perfection and the 
philosophical completeness of the Ayurvedic Analysis 
being appreciated is the peculiar phraseology, used by 
the ancient authors of our Ayurvedic classics. If an 
approach is made with an understanding study of such 
phraseology the reward would be great indeed. 


There are two modes or forms in which the causes 
of disease may exist in relation to disease. In one (called 
the Nija form) the extrinsic cause first sets up abnormal- 
ity of Dhatu-equiiibrium which results in the painful 
condition called disease, while, in the other (called 
the Agantu form) the painful condition is first pro- 
duced, and is followed later by the manifestation of 
abnormal Dhatu-equiiibrium. Injury, poisoning, parasitic 
germs, etc., come under the latter heading. Though 
diseases are thus classified as Nija and Agantu, yet, 
after disease is manifested, they are similar in their 
clinical manifestations ; for, unless Agantu causes set 
up abnormality of Dhatu-equiiibrium, the disease 
cannot have any real or continued existence. It is 


not every injury (even though painful for the time) 
that produces disease ; some may be quite ephemeral 
and pass off without eventuating in disease ; it is only 
when body-conditions are such that the Agantu cause 
actually produces the manifestation of Dhatu-morbidity 
that it cgn be spoken of as being the cause of disease. 
Hence it follows that abnormality of Dhatu equilibrium 
is the essential feature of both Nija and Agantu diseases. 


Ayurvedists trace the process of development of 
Dosha-Vaishamya — ^the abnormality of Dhatu-equili- 
brium — through the following six stages or Kriya Kales, 
as they are sometimes called : 

(1) Sanchaya or Chaya (accumulation) is the stage 
when the dosha accumulates in a particular part as 
stagnant Dosha. 

(2) Prakopa (Excitation). — When the stagnant 
dosha has accumulated and permeated a structure, 
there is excitement from aversion towards similars and 
attraction towards contraries. This is known as Prakopa. 
(excitation), which is also explained as Prarambha 
rupa or initial stage of disease. 

(3) Prasara (spreading ). — This is the stage where 
the excited dosha extends to another part. 


(4) Sthana Samshraya (taking up another location). 
— This is the stage where the excited dosha* having ex- 
tended to another part* beconnes located there* causing 
beginnings of specific diseases of those structures 
(e,g., diseases of blood* stomach* bladder and so on). 

(5) Vyakti (manifestation ). — This is the stage where 
the abnormality of Dosha-equilibrium results in the 
fully developed form of disease. 

(6) Bheda (variation ). — ^This is the stage where 
diseases l^ecome chronic* incurable, etc. The impor- 
tance of recognizing this stage lies not only in its 
being a very valuable aid in prognosis, but also in 
the fact that when diseases go to this stage* they may ^ 
act as predisposing causes of other diseases, or may 
so vitiate the germinal elements as to rnake for the 
esse of congenital or hereditary diseases in the offspring. 


There seems to be a general idea that the germ- 
theory of disease which plays so important a part in 
modern western medicine is not known to Ayurveda ; 

I propose to examine the question at a little length 
as great importance seems to be attached to it in 
certain scientific circles : my argument wilt be that it is 


not true to say that the germ-theory of causation of 
certain diseases was not known to Ayurveda, and 
that what is true is that it did not, and does not, 
occupy in Ayurveda the all-important position which 
it does in modern western medicine. 

We have seen that, according to Ayurvedists, 
causation of disease is two-fold, v/z., extrinsic (Bahya) 
and intrinsic (Abhyantara), and that parasitic germs 
are mentioned among the extrinsic causes, under the 
sub-head " Agantu,’ along with Traumas and poisons 
of all kinds. There are two ways in which Agantu 
diseases manifest themselves in the body, v/z. (1) 
independently (Svatantrena) and (2) by infection or 
contagion (Sankaramanena). Leprosy, other Kushtas 
and infectious diseases generally are instances of 
diseases conveyed by contagion. Pathogenic organisms 
(Krimis) are broadly divided into two classes, v/z,, 
those which are visible to the naked eye and those 
which are not ; thus, Sushruta, in the chapter entitled 
Krimi-Roga-Pratisheda, speaks of twenty kinds of 
Krimis, of which the first thirteen kinds are mentioned 
as being visible to the naked eye, while Keshada, 
Romada and others are said to be not so visible, 
Vaghbhata is also clear as to 
the causation of Kushtas by invisible organisms ; 
his significant reference to them as living Anoos 


^Ojof:) is unmistakable, as also his statement 
that some of them are invisible because of their 
minuteness ) (Ashtangahridaya . 

— Nidanasthana, Chapter VII). While there can 
be no doubt that the existence of microscopic 
organisms as also their definite causative relation- 
ship to certain diseases was distinctly recognized 
by Ayurvedists, yet, it is clear that they did not 
attribute to germs the all-important role, assigned to 
them by orthodox western scientists of to-day ; they 
merely looked upon the germ as one among the many 
Aganthu causative factors, capable of producing 
disease, if the soil or field (Kshetra) was suitable for 
the growth of the germ-seed. It is when the bodily 
constitution was undermined by the non-observance 
of the Laws of Health such as Ritucharya (Hygienic 
rules for various seasons of the year), Dinacharya 
(Hygienic rules for daily conduct), Brahmacharya 
(Hygienic rules of celibacy or regulated sexual life) 
and so on, that the Kshetra (or soil) became 
suitable for the growth of germ seeds, which were 
powerless to do any mischief in the case of those 
persons who led pure and healthy lives, because 
the Kshetra (or soil) was unsuitable for the germina- 
tion and growth of the seed. Looked at from this 
standpoint, germ-seed is merely one among the many 


external causative factors of disease, like Trauma, 
poisons, nutritional abnormalities and so on. This 
fact is, in a way, recognized by Western Medicine 
also ; for, we still speak of large groups of diseases, 
like Deficiency diseases. Nutritional diseases, Tumours, 
Malformations, and so on, whose causation is not 
attributed to germs at all, although some germ- 
enthusiasts are hard at work to find out causative 
germs for all diseases in general ; it is because of 
the undue importance attached to germs, that it 
sometimes appears as though the germ theory was 
the whole of our Western theory of causation of 
diseases, while the fact is that it is but one among 
the many theories known to Western Medicine. Thus, 
lack of vitamines is held to give rise to a group of 
diseases like Rickets, Scurvy and Beri-Beri ; abnor- 
malities of internal secretions, to other diseases, like 
Myxoedema, Addison's disease. Acromegaly, etc. ; 
then again we have Tumours, Malformations, etc., 
whose causation has not yet been satisfactorily 
known. Ayurveda prefers to have but one theory, 
viz., the Thri-dosha-theory, as sub-heads of which it 
has not only the germ-theory but also every other 
theory mentioned above. Hence, when people talk 
of 'the Thri -dosha -theory versus the germ-theory ', 
they are making the mistake of comparing the whole 


with a part ; then again, there seems to be such 
exaggerated views of * germ-theory ’ that it is worth 
while re-emphasizing the fact that, even in its own 
line, the present germ-theory is not the last word 
in medicine and that it is applicable to only one 
group of diseases. If one hundred people are 
exposed to the same bacterial infection or seed, 
it does not follow that all will contract the disease ; 
in addition to the bacteria, you require a particular 
condition of the tissue — soil where the bacteria can 
take root and thrive. It seems as though the Thri- 
dosha-theory looks at the question more from the 
standpoint of the soil, while the germ-theory looks at 
it more from the standpoint of the seed- '' Keep 
out the seed — away with all germs and you are safe 
— that is the slogan of the germ-enthusiast» It 
seems impracticable to keep out the germ-seeds 
which are ubiquitous- Therefore keep the soil in 
such a condition that no seed can grow, even if it 
gets in there." So urges the Ayurvedist, Moreover, 
can we definitely say that the Ayurvedist is wrong, 
even if he chooses to assert that the bacteria are the 
result rather than the cause of diseases ? Sir James 
Goodheart, an honoured name wherever Western 
Medicine is known, stated in the course of Harveian 
Oration for 1912: ‘'Pathology is still shifting. We 


have not yet reached finality. Even bacteria are 
probably results and not causes/' From what one 
may gather from the most recent Western literature 
on this subject, it seems as though there is now — 
that is, even twenty six-years ago when this Memo- 
randum was first written — a distinct tendency to get 
away from the present position of attaching exagge- 
rated importance to the germ-seeds and to take 
up instead more or less the Ayurvedic position of 
attending to the * soil ’ and keeping it in such a 
condition that the germ-seed cannot germinate or 
thrive therein. This new tendency is apparently 
gaining ground so fast that even the lay press has 
begun to interest itself in the matter, as may be 
gathered from the following extracts from a remark- 
able leading article in the Times (London) on the 
germ-theory of disease : A decade ago it was 

confidently affirmed that if the * seed ' was present, 
the noxious plant could be counted on to grow ; in 
other words, that infection was the one essential 
preliminary to illness. This idea led to the active 
campaigns which were organized against various 
bacteria, the hope being that their abolition would 
result in the abolition of the disasters occasioned by 
them. Medicine has largely abandoned that hope, for 
it is now certain that the ' soil ’ as much as the * seed ' 

determines the outcome. There are, in fact, disease- 
proof individuals and other individuals whose suscep- 
tibility is much greater than normal. Susceptibility, 
too, can be won or lost. The minds of many 
workers are turning to this aspect of the subject, for 
it is already abundantly clear that control of human 
resistance offers a brighter future than direct attempts 
to eliminate disease. For example, it is easier to 
replace sandstone grinding-wheels by wheels made of 
emery than to stamp out the tubercle bacillus — yet 
the effect, it would seem, of the easy method is 
similar to that which the vastly difficult one might 
be expected to produce. It is easier, too, to supply 
children in winter with an adequate supply of butter 
or other animal fat than to sweep their nurseries clear 
of the germs of pneumonia or bronchitis. The butter 
in this case makes the * soil ’ unsuitable for the 
'seed'.'* It will thus be seen that the Ayurvedic 
conception of germ-caused diseases, as of diseases 
generally, is essentially a sound one, even in the light 
of the most recent findings of Western Science. 



There are many well-meaning practitioners of 
Western Medicine who, while admitting readily, and 
even enthusiastically, that there are a good many 
drugs and medicinal preparations on Ayurveda which 
are of decided therapeutic value, are nevertheless of 
opinion that it is not necessary to study Ayurveda to 
know the use of these remedial measures and that 
practitioners of Western medicine may well be trusted 
to use them in the light of their own pathology, 
diagnosis, pharmacology and the like. This, to my 
mind, seems an unscientific procedure, which, if really 
put into practice, may easily be attended with danger- 
ous and even disastrous consequences, more especially 
in the case of those highly potent remedies used by 
practitioners of the Siddha system; such use of 
indigenous drugs and remedial measures would be as 
unscientific and dangerous a quackery, as, for instance, 
the use of vaccines, sera, and hypodermic remedies 


by Ayurvedists who have not learnt the science on 
which their use is based, though, by a little practice, 
they may easily learn the art of hypodermic or even 
intravenous injections. If this is borne in mind, one 
can easily understand why Ayurvedists object so 
strongly to the value of Ayurvedic or indigenous drugs 
being tested and judged by persons who have not 
made any understanding study of Ayurveda. But, 
without such a study, the use of Ayurvedic remedies 
by practitioners of Western medicine may really be, 
as I said before, unscientific and dangerous quackery 



According to Ayurvedic Pharmacology the several 
factors which govern the action of drugs are the 
following : 

(1) Dravya , — This has reference to the Pancha- 
bhutic constitution of medicinal substances, according 
as they are Parthiva (“ Earthy "), Apya ('" Watery *'), 
Thaijasa fiery "), Vayaveeya ('* Airy ") or Akasheeya 
(Etheric). As we have already seen in the discussion 
of the Panchabhuta theory, the significance of these 
terms is not at all brought out in their literal English 
translations. To the Physicists and chemists of Hindu 


thought, these terms denote the five classes of 
objective Matter related to the subjective sense- 
impressions resulting from their contacts with our five 
Indriyas (or senses). To the Ayurvedists, however, 
they mean far more ; in addition to the primary 
meanings given by Physicists and Chemists, they have 
added certain secondary meanings relating to their 
gunas (attributes) and karma (actions) which are of 
great significance to them from the standpoint of 
physiological actions and therapeutic uses, as may be 
gathered from the following illustrative description of 
a Thaijasa (*' fiery "') substance, A thing or sub* 
stance, which is heat-making, pungent and keen, 
subtle in its essence, permeates the minutest capillaries, 
and is dry, rough, light, and non-mucilogenous in its 
character and has preponderance of Rupaguna and a 
Resa ('* Taste ”) which is largely pungent marked by 
a shade of saline, is called a substance of the 
dominant principle of fire (Taijasa). Such a thing 
naturally evinces an up-coursing tendency in the 
body, produces a burning sensation therein, helps (the 
process of Digestion, etc.) and the spontaneous 
bursting (of abscesses etc.), increases the temperature 
of the body, strengthens the eyesight, improves the 
complexion and imparts a healthful glow to it.'" 
(Sushruta-Sutrasthan — Chap. 41). Similar descriptions 


are given in regard to other classes of Panchabhutic 

(2) Rasa . — A technical term, rather difficult to 
translate, though it is generally rendered as ' taste ’ ; 
but it means much more than what is conveyed by 
its literal meaning. It has reference to the direct 
and immediate action of a drug when it comes in 
contact with the organ of taste. As in the case of 
Panchabhutic Dravyas, the term “ Rasa " also has 
certain secondary meanings which are of great 
significance from the physiological and therapeutic 

(3) Veerya (Potency ). — This is of two kinds — 
Ushna (literally * hot *) and Sheeta (literally * cold ') ; 
these literal translations are very unsatisfactory, 
because they emphasize the temperature factor which 
is not intended in the original ; this becomes more 
obvious when I say that, according to some authorities, 

* Veeryas ' are not of two kinds only as mentioned 
above but of eight kinds — Ushna, Sheeta, Snigdha, 
Ruksha, Vishada, Pichchaia, Mridu and Theekshna. 
These technical terms are, however, not to be inter- 
preted in the sense of their literal English renderings. 
The term ' Veerya ' seems to have reference to the 
ultr.a-chemical actions of drugs. Ayurvedists take very 
great pains, to extract, as it were, the Veerya factor 


of drugs, which, they say, is capable of producing the 
desired results, overcoming the action of both Rasa 
and Vipaka. 

(4) Vipaka , — This has reference to the action of a 
drug after it has undergone digestive and assimilative 
transformation. Vipaka can be used to overcome 
the action of Rasa but is itself overcome by Veerya 
{or potency). It is generally held to oe of three 
kinds — Katu (pungent), Amla (sour), Mathura (sweet), 

(5) Prabhava (specific action ), — Where two drugs 
show agreement in respect of their * Rasa * Veerya * 
and ' Vipaka ' but are yet seen to show a difference 
in respect of their therapeutic action, such a difference 
is said to be due to ‘ Prabhava/ As an example of 
' Prabhava I may take the following from Charaka-^' 
Sutrasthan — Chapter XXVI — Chitraka (Plumbago 
Zeylanica) is Katu (pungent) in Rasa and Vipaka, and 
Ushna (hot) in Veerya* So is Danti (Baliospermum 
Montanum, or Croton Polyandrum). But Danti 
operates as a purgative, while Chitraka does not.'' 

As in their analysis of Matter and Etiology which 
have already been considered and of Diagnosis and 
Treatment to be considered hereafter, so also in their 
analysis of pharmocological principles, the Ayurvedists 
seem to have aimed at the formulation of certain 
general laws and classifications, which, possessing. 


as they all did, a characteristic element of complete- 
ness and adequacy for all time, helped their followers, 
not only to understand clearly what was known to 
them already but also to get a general grasp of 
things, as they would become known to them from 
time to time. Take, for instance, their conception 
of ' Rasa ’ or ' Tastes.’ To the Ayurvedist. the ‘ Rasa ' 
of a drug denotes much more than what the term 
‘ Taste ’ conveys to the student of Western medicine ; 
there are certain general laws, by the application of 
Which, he associates every ‘ Rasa ’ or ‘ Taste ' with 
a number of definite physiological and therapeutical 
actions in terms of ‘ Dosha,' ‘ Veerya,’ ‘ Vipaka ' and 
so on, so that by a knowledge of these laws, he 
claims to be able not only to utilize an appropriate 
Rasa or combination of Rasas in the correction of 
a particular type, of Doshic morbidity but also to infer 
by the ‘ Rasa ' of new substances that become known 
from time to time, what their physiological and thera- 
peutical properties are likely to be. To take an 
analogy from Western medicine, I may instance the 
case of ‘ Bitters,' — a term, with which are generally 
associated certain therapeutic properties, such as, for 
example, the property of acting as a carminative or a 
febrifuge, .etc. ; but, such examples are only isolated 
features of Western medicine, while, in Ayurveda the 


subject is thoroughly systematized into regular scientific 
categories ; all articles of diet, drug, etc., have been 
systematically classified under the six primary tastes — 
Madhura (sweet), Amla (acid), Lavana (saline), Katu 
(pungent), Thiktha (bitter), and Kashaya (astringent), 
so that, by knowing under which of these groups an 
article of drug or diet comes in, one can get a general 
idea of its physiological and therapeutic properties. 
Similar classifications exist for Dravya (as seen above), 
Veerya, and Vipaka ; and there are also subsidiary 
rules governing cases where there is disagreement 
between indications of ‘ Rasa,’ ‘ Veerya,’ etc. All 
known articles of diet and drug, and even the various 
phases of human activity (such as, exercise, sleep, 
study, bathing, and every other conceivable pheno- 
menon) are systematically classified, according to 
their physiological and therapeutic properties. There 
is a wealth of valuable information on these topics 
given in Ayurvedic classics like Charaka and Sushruta, 
relevant portions of which may be studied with profit 
by those interested in the subject. 



In general, Ayurvedic methods of Examination for 
purposes of Diagnosis are similar to those of Western 
Medicine ; but the method of approach as well as the 
nomenclature adopted are from the subjective stand- 
point so that all features that Western Medicine 
describes from an objective standpoint as “ Examina- 
tion by Inspection ”, " Examination by Palpation ”, 
" Examination by percussion ,” " Examination by 

ausculation “ Examination by the Microscope ” etc, 
would all come subjectively under one comprehensive 
category, “ Examination by the senses ” whether such 
examination is by sense aided by instruments or by an 
unaided sense. Thus, Examination by inspection, 
palpation, percussion, ausculation, microscopy etc. are 
all “ Examination by the senses ” ; in some cases, 
the sense may be aided as, for example, the sense of 
sight in Microscopic examination, the sense of hearing 
in Sthethoscopic examination and so on ; or, it may 
be unaided as in the case of ordinary inspection, 
palpation, etc. ; but whether aided or unaided, it is all 


examination by the senses — a concise and precise 
description which is yet comprehensive and adequate 
enough to serve as a formula for all time ; for, we 
cannot conceive any method of examination, whether 
direct or instrumental, whether known already or may 
become known hereafter, which will not come under 
the description ** Examination by the senses ", singly 
or combined, aided or unaided. This feature of 
enunciating all-comprehensive formulae adequate for 
all time is a striking feature of Hindu analytic thought 
generally, as has also been noticed in all other 
divisions of our present study. In addition to exa- 
mination by the senses ", there is also mention of 
Prasna " or interrogation so that the full formula 
Examination by the senses and interrogation " will 
include all possible methods of examination whether 
known already or may become known hereafter. 
These several points are well brought out in the 
following extract from the evidence of the late 
Kaviraj Yamini Bushan Ray, M.A., M.B. & C.M., a 
prince of practitioners learned in both Ayurveda and 
Western Medicine : “ The . diagnosis of diseases is 
six-fold — by means of the five senses and also by 
interrogation. Western Medicine, looking at things 
from without, designates its diagnostic methods by 
the terms inspection, palpation, etc., but, our ancients. 


ever looking at things from within, referred them 
all to the five senses and to interrogation, which 
(interrogation) was a very comprehensive and highly 
suggestive method, including, as it did, references to 
all the numerous relevant factors of diseases such 
as desa (country), kala (time or seasons), jati (tribe), 
satmya (compatibility, that is to say, whether correla- 
tion with particular climate, country, season, previous 
illness, tribal peculiarities, etc., is or is not com- 
patible to patient), athanka (the mode of onset), 
vedana samuchraya (the mode of development of 
ailment), balam (constitutional strength), deepagnitha 
(state of digestion and assimilation), mutra-pureeshadi 
(state of urine, faeces, etc.,) and so on. If any 
physician of any climate or country follows the detailed 
maxims laid down for the thorough examination of 
not only the disease, but also of the patient, which 
examination was particularly insisted on by our sages, 
as being essential both for diagnosis and treatment, 
he is sure to do well by his patient and bring credit 
to his science and art.” 


In every routine investigation of a case, the 
Physician is expected to pay special attention to the 


examination in respect of the following eight 
particulars : 

(1) Nadi (Pulse Examination) : In Western Medi- 
cine, examination of the pulse is undertaken primarily 
for finding out certain features of the circulatory 
system ; but, in Indian Medicine, it is undertaken to 
find out the state of disturbed doshas (Vata, Pitha, 
and Kapha) and of vital phenomena indicative of 
particular Roga (disease) and prognosis with reference 
to a particular Rogi (sick person). Examination of 
the Nadi seems to have been cultivated with special 
assiduity by Siddha physicians who look upon 

Nadi as indicative of the activities of the Jiva 
(Life Principle) in the individual body and its 
orientation to Cosmic* forces of Vayu, Moon and 
Sun, manifesting as Vayu Nadi, Chandra Nadi 
and Surya Nadi, corresponding to Ida, Pingala, 
Sushumna of our yogic and tantric Literature. It is 
difficult to explain these things in the language of 
Modern Medicine because orthodox physiology does 
not recognise the existence of any of these life- 

(2) Sparsha (Tactile indications such as : '^heat'*, 
^'cold*', etc.) 

(3) Rupa (Visual indications such as : lustre, colour 
of skin, etc.) 


(4) Sabda (Voice indications such as : voice being 
excited, strong, weak, etc.) 

(5) Pureesha (Faeces indications such as : consti- 
pation, diarrhoea, colour, etc.) 

(6) Netra (Eye indications such as : various colours 
of the conjunctiva, local swellings, etc.) 

(7) Mutra (Urine indications such as : colour^ 
lustre, clarity, turbidity, density, etc.) The examinatiorr 
of urine is cultivated with special assiduity by our 
Unani Physicians. 

(8) Jihwa (Tongue indications such as : colour of 
coating, existence of cracks, undue dryness, undue 
moisture and such other features.) 


The methods of investigation of Diseases are usually 
described under the following five heads beginning with 
Nidana and hence designated as Nidana Panchakam : 

(1) Nidana . — First comes the investigation of 
^ nidana ’ or the root-cause of diseases ; that is to 
say, of the particular causative indiscretion, such as, 
bad food, bad water, indulgences, excesses and the 
like. This gives us clues to diagnosis and prognosis. 
But, as one nidana may ' possibly be at the root of 


more than one disease, Nidana alone cannot help us 
to diagnose diseases. 

(2) Purvarupa . — Next we proceed to investigate 
purvarupa, or the prodromata. This investigation helps 
the physician to correlate particular doshic derange- 
ment with a particular group of prodromata and also 
gives him some clue to prognosis. 

(3) Rupa , — Next comes the investigation of rupa 
or symptomatology, by means of which the physician 
is enabled to judge the special features of the 
developed stage of disease, of doshas, dushya etc., 
which indicate whether we have to deal with morbidity 
of one dosha, two doshas (dwandva), or all the three 
(sannipata) ; whether it is an affection of rasa, rakta, 
mamsa, asthi, or any other dhatu or dushya, and so 
on. The study of signs and symptoms was apparently 
pursued by ayurvedists with remarkable diligence 
and skill. 

(4) Upashaya , — Next in order comes what is 
termed Upashaya, which is really a form of diagnosis 
by applied therapeutics, a measure not unknown to 
Western medicine. Let us say, the question is 
whether a particular ailment is due to the derange- 
ment of vata. We are in doubt. We then prescribe 
a diet, exercise or any other remedial measure known 
to cure this suspected derangement, which is then 


either ameliorated or aggravated. If it is ameliorated, 
then the hypotheticated proposition is confirmed. !f 
not, it is rejected. 

(5) Samprapthi, — Finally, we have samprapthi, a 
term which is generally translated as pathology ; but 
it is really much more, because its investigation is 
conducted with a special eye to prognosis. It has 
reference to the following features : — 

(1) Sankya or number, — That is to say, the 
number of varieties or types in which diseases may 
manifest themselves : thus — fevers in eight types, 
gulmas in five, leprosy in seven, and so on. 
(2) Pradhanya or predominance, — That is, the pre- 
dominance of particular dosha or doshas. (3) Vidhi 
or order or classification, — That is with reference to 
either the two-fold causes, viz,, idiopathic (nija) or 
extrinsic (aganthuka), or to the three-fold classification 
of tridosha, or to the four-fold classification of curable, 
incurable, mild and severe types, (4) Vikalpa or pos^* 
sible alternatives — that is, the ascertainment of the 
measure in which the doshas are excited in the combined 
doshic triad, (5) Time of energising (balakala ), — 
This is with reference to the time-factor, which ener- 
gises diseases and makes them either atibala, madhya- 
bala or heenabala (severe, moderate or mild) e.g., the 
seasons, the day, the night, the hour of eating, etc. 


^ Zfa[Td’^T2T 


That alone is the right treatment, which makes 
for health ; 

'he alone is the best doctor who frees us from 
diseases. * 

To provide for our people the best available medi- 
cal aid that it is in our power to give should be the 
supreme objective of us all, engaged in the study, 
teaching and practice of Medicine. To do our 
part in achieving this objective, it is very neces- 
sary that we should keep ourselves constantly up- 
to-date and in continual touch, to the utmost 
extent that it is possible for us to do, with the 
progress that is made all over the world. The adoption 
of such a course would come naturally and easily to 
followers of Ayurveda with its fundamental catholicity 


of outlook and comprehensiveness of approach. In 
many places in previous sections, I have pointed out 
that a characteristic feature of Hindu Analytical thought 
that strikes us everywhere in our studies is its flair 
for enunciating theories so complete in their con- 
ception, so perfect in their logic and so satisfying 
from a philosophical standpoint as to prove all-com- 
prehensive and adequate for all time — a feature 
which strikes us as much in our study of treatment as 
in other studies. While firmly rooted in its time-tested 
Siddhanta of Thridhoshic Physiology, Pathology and 
Therapeutics, it has nevertheless provided ready-made 
niches or mansions to which therapeutical practices of 
proven utility from everywhere and of all times can be 
readily welcomed at all times. To* make this statement 
clear, I give below the all-inclusive categories under 
which Ayurveda arranges all possible modes of treat- 
ment (Chikitsa) of all times — past, present and future. 
Firstly, it states that two-fold are methods of treat- 
ment (Chikitsa) namely Vipareetha Chikitsa (Treatment 
by contraries) and Thadarthakari Chikitsa (Treatment 
by similars). Each of these show a natural three-fold 
subdivision as indicated below : 

(A) Vipareetha Chikitsa or Treatment by Allopathy 
in the sense of treatment by contraries or opposites. 
This is of three kinds, namely: (1) Hetu Vipareetham 


or treatment by measures — Medicines (Aushadha), 
Diets (Anna) and Life activities (Vihara) — which are 
contrary to Hetu or cause of disease and operate for 
its removal ; (2) Vyadhi Vipareetham or treatment 
by measures which are contrary to Vyadhi or disease 
(which is the effect) and operate for its removal ; 
(3) Hetu-Vyadhi Vipareetham or treatment by 
measures which are contrary to both Hetu (cause) and 
Vyadhi (disease) and operate for their removal. 

In certain cases, the cause may disappear after 
producing the effect namely disease. In other cases 
it may persist and make for continuance or recurrence 
of disease. In the former case, only the disease has 
to be dealt with. In the latter case both cause and 
disease have to be dealt with. In some cases, it may 
be sufficient to deal with only the cause. If a burning 
lamp is so near the skin as to cause burns unless 
removed, the development of Vyadhi or disease 
called burns may be dealt with by removing the 
lamp (cause) to a safe distance. If, however, the 
disease has already developed so that blisters, loss of 
tissue etc., have occurred in some degree, the removal 
of cause (the burning lamp in this case) is not 
sufficient. The lamp has to be removed and burns 
also treated. That is both hetu and vyadhi should be 
dealt with. 


(B) Thadarthakari Chikitsa or Treatment by Homeo- 
pathy in the sense of treatment by similars. This 
again is of three kinds namely; (1) Hetu Thadar- 
thakari or treatment by measures which are similar 
to the cause (Hetu) and operate for its removal 
(2) Vyadhi Thadarthakari or treatment by measures 
which are similar to Vyadhi (disease) and operate 
for its removal (3) Hetu-Vyadhi Thadarthakari 
or treatment by measures similar to both Hetu 
(cause) and Vyadhi (Disease) and operate for their 

It will thus be seen that the classification given 
above is all-inclusive and valid for all times and pro- 
vides ready-made niches or mansions, to which fitting 
welcome may be extended, as stated before, to any 
form of treatment of proven utility that may be known 
already (whether it bears the specific label Allopathy, 
Homeopathy, Naturopathy or any other) or that may 
become known hereafter. There are, of course, 
practical limitations arising from the varying and 
limited capacities of individuals to acquire a sufficient 
knowledge of other presentations and incorporate 
harmoniously into their practice such things as are of 
proven utility in other practices. We know from our 
own experience and practice that such harmonisation 
can be done according to the measure of our 


individual capacity and opportunity. We know also of 
practitioners qualifying from Allopathic Colleges be- 
coming votaries of Homeopathy, Naturopathy etc. 
later on and adopting them successfully in their 


The general principles of treatment according to 
Ayurveda are indicated in the following extract from the 
written evidence of the late Kaviraj Dr. Gananatha Sen, 
one of the ablest and most successful practitioners 
of his day and a brilliant Sanskritist and Ayurvedic 
scholar learned in Western Medicine also : ** The 

sine qua non of proper treatment is of course proper 
diagnosis particularly with a view to our " Thridosha * 
pathology. This done, we have to ascertain whether 
we have to fight the intrinsic cause (/.e., gyg 
or the disease itself ; also whether the case is 
Sadhya or easily curable, Krichchra Sadhya or 
curable with difficulty, or Asadhya or incurable. 
The last group of cases is either not treated at 
all or treated only to make the disease Yapya or 




" Now, let us first consider the medical side of 
treatment. First of all, we take note of the Samata 
(^ETTR^T) '•® > presence or absence of auto-intoxication 
(or autogenous toxicity) in every disease. If auto- 
intoxication is present, we treat the patient by fasting, 
purging, etc., within the limits of the patient’s strength 
and tolerance till the symptoms of auto-intoxication 
disappear. These symptoms have been stated very 
clearly in a general way as also in particular for 
different diseases. This line is called samshodhan or 
“clearing-up” treatment. As an example of this 
may be cited fasting or purging in some fevers as the 
first course of treatment. If there is no auto-intoxica- 
tion, we treat the disease directly (e.g., giving a 
febrifuge in fevers). This is called Samshaman or 
“ putting down treatment ” Both kinds of treatment 
are of course done with a clear grasp of the doshic 
derangement, the removal of which is considered the 
ultimate goal of treatment. 



In this connexion, it is worth while to mention 
that there are five methods (Panchakarma) of the 


samshodhan or '' clearing up " treatment. These are : 
(1) Vamana or the use of emetics for washing out 
the stomach. (2) Virechan or the use of purgatives 
with a view to clear the upper or lower bowels. 
Numerous purgatives have been described to suit 
various cases. (3) Shiro-virechan or the use of 
errhines to promote the nasal secretions — in diseases 
of the nose and throat generally, in some diseases 
of the eye (as glaucoma) and in some forms of 
intractable headache and cerebral diseases. (4) and 
(5) ^ Asthapan ’ and ' Anuvasan/ known collectively 
as * Vastikarma ' which comprise the various forms 
of enemata, known and unknown to the Western 
science. To enumerate some of these, we may 
mention — (i) Shodhana vasti or Niruha, made up of 
medicated alkaline fluids (Kashayas) for clearing out 
the colon, (ii) Snehana vasti or anuvasan, made up 
of similar fluid with copious oily substances in it — for 
clearing out the colon and soothing the pelvic nervous 
system. (iii) Pichcha vasti, mucilaginous enemata 
used as emollients to soothe the inflamed mucous 
membrane of the colon in colitis and other diseases, 
(iv) Brihmana vasti, or nutrient enemata used not 
only in extreme cases, where feeding by the mouth 
is not possible, but also in ill-nourished patients who 
can take by the mouth. (v) Bheshaja vasti, or 

medicated enemata — similar to Bromide and Chloraf 
injections in Western medicine. And so forth, 
hundreds of drugs and recipes are described for use 
under each of the heads above enumerated. So 
much indeed was the reliance in Vasti Karma in 
certain diseases that we read : 

I II Enemata (Vasthi- 

karma) constitute half the treatment if not the whole 
treatment as some physicians think.'' 



in the palmy and progressive days of Ayurveda, 
the fathers of Ayurvedic Medicine were the foremost 
exponents and all-round practitioners of their times, 
teaching and practising Ashtanga Chikitsa, * the eight 
divisioned therapy comprehending medical, surgical 
and other branches included in the term ' Ashtanga 
To those who are apt to judge the past of Ayurveda 
by the conditions of the present lack of self-sufficiency 
— especially in the Surgical field, a description of the 
striking achievements of the past even in the Surgical 
line as given in the Encyclopaedia Brittanica (VoL XXII 
— P. 672 — 9th Edition) may serve as a useful 
eye-opener. History has recorded that medical students 
from all parts of the world came for post-graduate 
study to the Medical Faculty of some famous University 
in India, as the one at Taxilla or Nalanda, The field 
of activity of our Physicians and Professors of those 
days was not confined to India but extended from 
Oreece, Persia and Arabia in the West to China, Java 


and other countries of Greater India in the East. 
Indian Professors and Practitioners of Ayurveda were 
then warmly welcomed by Royal Patrons in other 
countries. They practised under Royal Patronage and 
exchanged thoughts freely with practitioners of those 
countries. The treasures of Ayurveda were translated 
into the language of other countries — Persian, Arabic, 
Chinese, etc. : and a number of remedies of 
proven utility used by the Arabians, Persians and 
Chinese were incorporated into Ayurvedic Pharma- 
copoeia ; but, due to various causes — political and 
other which need not be gone into here, this palmy 
and progressive period was followed by dark and 
decadent days for Indian Medicine as for many other 
branches of the learning and wisdom of India. 
State-recognition and state-patronage was withdrawn 
from Indian Medicine and transferred to the Western 
Medicine of our Rulers. This led to stagnation, 
obstructed progress, stunted growth and partial 
functioning from the effects of which Indian Medicine 
is still suffering ; but, even under the severe 
handicaps it has been subjected to, it is Indian 
Medicine that is still ministering to large sections 
of our Public — especially the rural millions in whose 
hearts it still finds a place of grateful appreciation 
and abiding affection. 


Examples are not wanting even in recent times to 
show how treatment of even new diseases could be 
successfully undertaken by practitioners of Ayurveda, 
by the application of their fundamental principles of 
Diagnosis and Treatment which have served them 
well through the ages. When' virulent epidemics like 
plague and influenza first broke out in India some 
years ago, practitioners of Ayurveda were quite equal 
to the task of divtsing, on the basis of thridoshic 
pharmacology and therapeutics, new remedies which 
proved at least as successful as the remedies then 
devised by any other system of Medicine. Haimadi 
Panakam and Shathadoutha Ghritham the reme- 
dies devised by the late Vaidyaratna Pt. D. Gopala- 
charlu for plague, were looked upon as specifics 
by the Public and used by a large number of 
practitioners, including Allopathists. Similar was 
the case with his Charaka Vati for influenza. 
It is not only in respect of new diseases that they have 
devised new remedies and methods of treatment. 
They have realised all along that even ancient diseases 
exhibit variations in their manifestations, from age to 
age, and country to country, ^ as also in relation to 
changing conditions of individuals and their social and 
other environments ; and they have gone on taking 
due note of all these factors as they occurred and 


adjusting remedies and diets appropriate to the 
changed and changing conditions. 

Furthermore, it has to be noted that the minis- 
trations of Indian Medicine are sought after not only 
by the vast masses of our unlettered poor whose 
faith, affection and preferences are rooted in Indian 
Medicine but also by well-placed persons of light 
and learning in all walks of life, including rich intellec- 
tuals who could well afford to obtain the services of 
Western Medicine if and when they want it as also by 
some practitioners of Western Medicine itself in the 
treatment of some of their patients and of the 
members of their family including themselves. 

All realists have therefore to take note of the fact 
that the practical and survival value of Indian Medicine 
is decidedly high, as may be gathered from the 
fact that it is Indian Medicine that has ministered for 
millennia to the medical needs of the vast masses 
of our population and that, even to-day, and 
notwithstanding the very adverse conditions which it has 
been subjected to for over a century and a half, it is 
Indian Medicine that ministers to about SO to 90 per 
cent of our teeming millions especially in rural areas 
whose faith, affection and preferences are rooted in 
Indian Medicine while it is only 1 0 to 20 per cent of 
the population living mostly in Urban Areas that are 


served by Allopathic Medicine, notwithstanding the 
fact that, for over a century and a half, it has enjoyed 
almost exclusive monopoly of State-patronage, State- 
support and State-munificence. Under these circum- 
stances, it was a disservice to the cause of both 
Science and suffering humanity that previous Govern- 
ments should have ignored or discouraged an agency 
with such proven practical and survival value as that 
of Indian Medicine. This mistake has now to be set 
right and that*as quickly as possible. 

The Science and Art of Indian Medicine is part 
and parcel of our invaluable cultural heritage which 
should be zealously preserved, fostered and promoted 
at least in India and for the greater service to the 
cause of Science, suffering humanity and the genera- 
tions that are to come after us. If it is ignored 
in India itself, where else could we expect it to be 
cherished as the Science and Art of such proven 
practical and cultural value deserves to be cherished. 


In his Presidential Address to the Association of 
Physicians of India about four years ago, Dr. Jeevaraj 
N. Mehta observed as follows in regard to nutrition 
and Dietetics : — The subject of nutrition has been, for 


several years, the concern of most countries in the 
world. . . . We are still very far from evolving 

an Indian dietary on modern scientific basis. . . 

Though modern scientific medicine has been with us 
for over a hundred years, we have not yet evolved 
dietary suitable for those with vegetarian habits, 
either in acute illness or during the stage of con- 
valescence If modern medical science has not yet 
been able to solve the problems stated above, during 
these hundred years or more, will tBe votaries of 
modern medicine condescend to examine whether the 
ancient Medicine* of Ayurveda has anything to contri- 
bute to the solution of the said problems ? If they 
take the trouble to acquaint themselves with the texts 
and traditions on the subject of Pathyapathya 
they will find that the dietaries suitable — (Pathya) 
and un-suitable (Apathya) for each disease and for 
various stages of the disease have been worked out. 
So too there are texts and traditions relating to the 
subject of Nutrition and the properties of the articles 
of foods and drinks in common use in India. The 
approach to the subject is. however, somewhat dif- 
ferent. It is on the assumption that a living human 
being is not merely a material entity but essentially a 
spiritual being so that the problem of his nutrition is 
not merely a question of physics and chemistry, of 


calories and vitamins — natural or synthetic (important 
as these are) but also a question of psychological and 
spiritual values and of providing nutrition suitable not 
only for his physical body but for his ernotional and 
mental bodies as well. There is a very close inter- 
dependence of the nutrition of these several bodies 
— specially in the case of intellectuals, scientists, poets, 
philosophers, mystics, statesmen and people in general 
with outstanding qualities of head and heart as dis- 
tinguished frorh people whose work is symbolised by 
the hand such as manual' labourers and other similar 
workers. The nutritional needs of all these have to 
be considered separately and individually. The close 
interdependence and interaction of the physical and 
other bodies of living human beings will be dealt 
with later on under the head of Health-Culture. 
Practitioners of Allopathy who are really interested 
in studying Ayurvedic texts and traditions on this 
question may however find it difficult to get at the 
original sources because they are written in Sanskrit 
or vernaculars with which they are not acquainted and 
also because the information required is scattered 
over many books so that reference to a single work 
will not be sufficient to give full information in every 
case. 1 think it is our duty to render all the help we 
can to genuine enquirers. The best way of doing this 


is to arrange for the compilation and publication of 
treatises in which knowledge found in many sources is 
gathered into the compass of a single comprehensive 
work* Similar remarks apply to the question of 
compiling treatises on Grihavaidyam (the subject of 
house-hold remedies and preparation of diets in 
health and illness) a working knowledge of which 
was well known to our grand -mothers, less known 
to our mothers and least known or not known at 
all to our sisters and daughters. 


Study and research concerning the cause and cure 
of diseases, the prevention of ill-health and promotion 
of health are doubless essential in order that our 
knowledge in regard to these topics may grow from 
*T>ore to more ; but it is also essential that methods 
should be devised whereby a portion of such know- 
ledge as is necessary is communicated to each 
individual in the community in order that he may 
make it his own and co-operate intelligently in carrying 
out measures intended to prevent diseases and pro- 
mote health. If we are to profit by the experiences of 
the west in this repect, we have to realise that the pro- 
grammes of Health-lectures, Health-demonstrations, 


Health»film$ and other forms of propaganda carried 
on till now have proved insufficient for achiev- 
ing the supreme objective of ail Health culture, 
viz,, the formation of the right habit — the health 
habit if you please — which would enable a person 
to behave habitually correctly under all circumstances, 
to follow hygienic ways and avoid unhygienic ones 
as a matter of unconscious or automatic behaviour, 
exactly as a properly educated gentleman would act 
correctly and behave gentlemanly under all circum- 
stances merely as a matter of right habit (resulting 
from right training) and without any need to think in 
each case whether it is correct to sit in one way or 
in another. The ideas in my mind in regard to the 
causes of the present unsatisfactory situation and the 
way to deal with them are so well expressed in 
an Article by Dr. Atkinson, former Commissioner 
of Health for Western Australia that I beg leave 
to give below a summary of his article using his 
own words as far as possible : The results of the 
present-day methods are appallingly slow ; the ignor- 
ance of the general public in regard to even the 
simplest principles of Hygiene is still colossal. If we 
have succeeded in imparting the knowledge, we have 
not succeeded in persuading the great majority of 
Individuals to apply it If facts are pushed before 


them, they wake up temporarily and take notice, 
but tend to forget readily and fall back into ignorance. 
Our literature pushed under the noses, is casually 
read and thrown away. Our lectures are attended 
by the few and for the most part by those already 
so instructed in the subject as not to need them. 
Our lantern slides are viewed out of curiosity ; and if 
amusing are appreciated for the laughs they invoke 
rather than for the message they convey. And so, 
much of our time is wasted. It is all so temporary 
in its effect and so casual and infrequent in its presen- 
tation. it does not arouse permanent interest nor 
retention. In other words it does not stick. Now 
the question is to consider what it is that has led to 
this unsatisfactory result. The answer is that it is 
because we approach the question in the wrong 
way, in that we endeavour to teach it as we would 
a science, academically, instead of trying to develop 
It as a sense, the Public Health sense if you like, a 
sense of right and healthful communal and individual 
living. Now, how may this sense be developed ? The 
answer is that it must originate with first impressions 
very early in life. If the parents themselves had 
this public health sense and knowledge developed 
from their infancy, they would unwittingly develop it 
in their offspring. The imitative infant watching its 


mother convey food to the mouth might equally 
well watch her drive away the flies from milk-jug 
and cover the jug. During this infant stage, the 
teachers of the very young can do a lot through 
stories, nursery rhymes and the like. Why not invent 
stories with a definite health-value, stories that will, 
whilst being of a nature to hold the child's interest 
and remain in his memory, convey real facts and 
principles of value in later life. What an opportunity 
we are missing ! Just think how tellingly one might 
describe the adventures of a ghoulish fly which laid 
its eggs in the manure heap of the palace stable ; 
how out of these eggs came a legion of other ghoulish 
flies intent upon slaying the princess’ baby ; how they 
fed upon filth which they carried to the golden cradle 
and with which they contaminated the baby's lips. 
The baby thereupon sickens and the distracted prin- 
cess calls for a knight who will go forth and swat all 
flies or better still destroy all fly-breeding manure 
. heaps ; and then, think too, of the illustrations that 
may accompany this story and help to keep the 
moral alive for evermore ; so too, think of the 
nursery rhymes ; what an opportunity to hash up our 
hygiene in never-to-be-forgotten forms. 

If we wish to see that every individual has his 
health-sense so well trained that living and reacting 


hygienically under all circumstances is with him a 
matter of unconscious behaviour and that his pursuit 
of hygienic acts and avoidance of unhygienic ones 
are both done as a matter of correct habit, then, 
it is necessary to begin health-education and health- 
training right from the very commencement of infancy 
through nursery rhymes and songs for little children ; 
through poetical or musical recitations, memory- 
aiding jingles and interesting stories for the children at 
the primary school stage ; through themes in 
dramas, poetry, prose, music, painting, cinemas, etc., 
for adolescents, aided in all cases by right examples 
of parents, guardians, teachers and others who 
may serve as examples. The fundamental idea should 
be that in every case health-knowledge should be 
presented in a manner which is interesting enough 
to grip the attention of the child and make a lasting 
impression on his memory ; it should be unobstrusive 
yet persistent ; not occasional, academical lessons chill- 
ing to the child and divorced from his life-activities 
but regular events of his daily routine both at 
home and at school, so planned that by constant 
practice the child acquires the HABIT of right living 
as a joyous and almost unconscious function of life- 
activity. It should be quite a feasible programme to 
revive the ancient nursery rhymes and songs, stories 


and ballads, the Aharavihara Vidhis and the like in a 
manner that are suited to modern conditions ; we 
have excellent models as, for instance, in the chapters 
on Dinacharya (rules of daily conduct), Ritucharya 
(rules for the different seasons) and the like, which 
are found in all ancient books on Medicine, not to 
speak of the wise sayings scattered in many other 
sastraic works, specially the Grihya sutras and Dharma 
Shastras such as those of Manu, Yajnavalkya and 
Parasara* There are certain unique excellences in 
our ancient models which, one would very much wish, 
modern medicine may follow with advantage. The 
ancients loved to express themselves through verses 
which were at once classic works of mellifluous 
poetry as well as standard works of medical 
science, with the result that their appeal was lasting 
and widespread ; the verses were easily and eagerly 
committed to memory and treasured up as per- 
manent possessions not only by the students of 
medicine but by many others as well. Another and 
a most precious feature of our ancient health-maxims 
lies in the very strong emphasis that is laid every- 
where on the profound truth that the health of the 
body is very closely interrelated with the health of the 
emotions and the mind and that, therefore, it is as 
vitally necessary to provide the latter with Ahara 


(food) and Vihara (practices) that they need as it 
is necessary to provide the physical body with the 
food and practices it needs. Time there was, and 
that not long ago, when it was the fashion to hold up 
to ridicule the ancient Ayurvedic teaching that certain 
emotions like anger, sorrow, fear, hatred, jealousy, 
etc., would make for ill-health while certain others 
like affection, charity, contentment, compassion, joy, 
etc., would make for good-health. This was ridiculed 
as an evidence of the incurable habit of our ancients 
to go about mixing up scientific laws with rules of 
ethics on the one hand and superstitious beliefs on 
the other. Fortunately for all concerned, the times 
are now fast changing and the discoveries of modern 
science itself are seen to confirm the ancient teaching. 
Modern science seems now to be prepared to explain 
that with every fit of anger, rage etc., there will 
be a corresponding unhealthy stimulation of the 
adrenal or other glands which, if frequently repeated, 
may lead to such exhaustion of the affected glands 
as to result in, say. Diabetes, Neurasthenia, Dyspepsia 
etc. Modern science seems to be prepared to look 
for even epidemics of emotional disorders similar to 
epidemics of physical disorders, for instance, in the 
statement of an American doctor that ” when stocks 
go down in New York, diabetes goes up ”. It will 


perhaps be explained that widespread financial crash 
results in widespread emotional crash of a specific 
nature which in turn leads to a correspondingly wide- 
spread pancreatic bankruptcy, resulting in an epidemic 
of diabetes. Far from ridiculing the ancients as 
persons who knew no better than to mix up health 
and ill-health with the practice and non-practice of 
the social and moral virtues, modern science itself 
may well be prepared to preach an “ ethical " 
sermon, somewhat in the following strain : “If you 
habitually allow yourself to get into fits of anger or 
rage the result will be, among other things, unhealthy 
stimulation of your adrenal glands, leading perhaps 
to neurasthenia. If you habitually get into temper as 
often as you can, you will surely have to pay the 
penalty for it in the shape of dyspepsia and such 
other troubles. If on the contrary you are ever 
affectionate and cheerful, radiating sunshine wherever 
you go, you may safely trust to your own glands — 
both the ductless and the ducted, to keep you ever 
young and in radiant health. In brief, judged even 
from the most materialistic standpoint of sheer physical 
well-being it will pay you exceedingly well to practise 
altruism, sobriety, cheerfulness, affection and other 
social and moral virtues, while avoiding like poison, 
passion, hatred, jealousy, anger, rage and other vices. 


Go about doing good, avoiding evil, and practising- 
Sadachara (right social and moral conduct) as Nithya- 
karma and I promise you the very best of health and- 
therefore of happiness. ” Thinking along such lines, 
it should not now be difficult for us to appreciate in 
our own measure the profound wisdom of the great 
Rishis of this ancient land who, in laying down precepts 
of our daily practice (Nithyakarma and Dinacharya), 
have ever proclaimed that what is essential for a- 
healthy life is, first of ail and most of all, to live nobly, 
to think clean thoughts, to feel noble emotions and 
to behave rightly under all the varying conditions 
and circumstances of our lives. It is good to have 
clean bodies ; but clean minds are even more 
essential. It is good to keep our body clean and 
feed it on pure food ; but, it is better to take our 
food after a cleansing bath and with clean minds and 
pure hearts. Such is the ancient teaching which 
Ayurveda has ever proclaimed. Our great forefathers 
attached so much importance to the observance of 
rules of hygienic living as part of our daily routine 
that they incorporated them into rules of Sadachara 
or the Nithya Vidhi which it was incumbent upon 
everyone to carry out every day and throughout 
the day. These hygienic rules of Sadachara or right 
conduct meet us everywhere — in the Srutis and Smritis 


and Dharma Sastras, fthihasas, Puranas, Medical and 
other scientific treatises, Popular songs, Kavyas, 
Natakas and Literature in general, as though they 
desired that everybody should become drilled in the 
habit of healthy living, no matter what his special 
study or avocation may be. We have now to re-edit 
the ancient rules of Sadachara laid down for the 
conditions which obtained in the spacious and leisurely 
days of old with its peculiar social, religious, economic 
and other environments so as to adapt them to the 
much altered conditions of the rural and urban lives 
of our modern days. 



While the immense popularity and practical effi- 
ciency of Ayurvedic practice in the Medical line are of 
undeniably high value as are also the Ayurvedic 
writings and traditions in regard to Health-culture, 
Dieting, Domestic Medicine, Nutrition, etc, it does 
not appear that Ayurveda is self-sufficient in the 
surgical line as practised at present (/.e„ twenty-five 
years ago when this Memorandum was first written) : 
Such is the opinion of a scholarly exponent and success- 
ful practitioner recognised as an eminent authority 
on Ayurveda, the late Kaviraj Dr. Gana Natha Sen 


who has referred to this aspect of the question 
in the following terms: Whatever may have 

been the past glory of Ayurveda it would be 
self-deception on our part to think that we still sit 
on a high pedestal. The number of Ayurvedic 
physicians in India is legion but soundly educated 
exponents of the ancient system are not numerous. 
Besides* there is yet a good deal of conservatism* 
which is contrary to the liberal spirit of Ayurveda 
which must be overcome. Much of the old valuable 
literature has been lost and what exists is not often 
studied in a scientific spirit. If the sound principles 
and methods of treating diseases with the time- 
honoured recipes of reliable efficacy were not there* 
the Ayurvedic system of medicine would have been 
dead by this time in the struggle for existence. So^ 
let us not be slow in recognizing the crying need 
for reform. We may have once made great progress 
in Surgery but we must confess that we now lag sadly 
behind. . . And even in the great departments 

of Medicine and Pharmacy which are our great pride 
and mainstay, we must work hard to demonstrate 
and utilize the principles of medicine that we have in our 
books. One may therefore be permitted to suggest 


that it is not in the interests of the public, the pro- 
motion of whose well-being must alone be our 


paramount consideration, to shut out any useful means 
of medical, surgical or other relief, no matter whether 
it is of the European or of any other denomination.” 



It is on the basis of opinions such as those noted 
above that the Madras Government Committee on the 
Indigenous Systems of Medicine observed as follows in 
their Report published early in 1923 : “It seems to 
us that the first and foremost problem that we have 
to address ourselves is to see how we can make the 
Indian systems of medicine rapidly self-sufficient and 
fully efficient ; for, unless and until this is secured, 
the problem of bringing adequate medical relief within 
the easy reach of our masses, especially, in the rural 
areas, will not become satisfactorily solved. Moreover, 
the establishment of institutions of Indian systems 
will, under these circumstances, remain a proposition 
of only limited applicability ; because it would involve 
the maintenance of a double set of institutions, one, 
the Indian, to look after our medical ailments, and 
the other the European, to look after our surgical 
needs — an arrangement as uneconomical as it is 
unsatisfactory. Some such arrangement may, however. 


become inevitable in the transitional stage ; but 
this period should be as short as possible. We, 
therefore, consider, that the most urgent and 
immediate concern for the State is to establish and 
also to promote, by State-aid, State-recognition, and 
such other means, the establishment of suitable 
centres of medical education, and the devising of 
suitable scheme of studies of Indian medicine calculated 
to make those trained under it equal to the task of 
ministering, not only to our medical needs, as at 
present, but to our surgical ailments as v/ell. Con- 
sistently with this view, we would like to see the 
future practitioners of India, no matter what denomi- 
nation they belong to — Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani, 
European medicine or any other — being so schooled 
and trained, as to be able to bring to bear on the 
problem of health and ill-health, not only the expert 
knowledge of their systems, but, as far as practicable, 
the best that is in other systems also/' 



It is to implement the short-range objective noted 
above, that I have pleaded frequently that a working 


knowledge of Indian Medicine is to be acquired by 
the students of Western Medicine and a working 
knowledge of Western Medicine is to be acquired 
by the students of Indian Medicine through two 
types of institutions in both of which there would be 
provision for training in both Indian and Western 
Medicine but with emphasis on Indian Medicine in the 
one type and on Western Medicine in the other ; 
but this, i have always stated, was to be deemed 
as only a temporary and transitory arrangement. 
The long-range or ultimate objective should be the 
synthesis of Indian and Western Medicine into a unified 
and integrated whole. We should keep ourselves 
constantly uptodate and in continual touch with 
current scientific thought and achievements of proven 
utility, arranging our courses of study in such a way 
as to enable those trained under it to prove equal to 
the task of serving the country successfully, efficiently 
and with distinction in ail fields whether it be Medical 
Relief or Medical Education or Medical Research. This 
should be easy and natural for us ; for, it has been 
the unique feature of Indian culture throughout the 
ages that while it has gone on assimilating the 
valuable and significant features of other cultures, it 
has all the time remained fundamentally rooted in its 
own cultural excellences. It is because of this feature 


that Greeko-Arabian or Western Medicine of yesterday 
which we call Unani has now been assimilated into and 
become part and parcel of Indian Medicine of to-day. 
Working along similar lines, we may confidently hope 
that Allopathy, the Western Medicine of to-day, will 
likewise get assimilated into and become part and 
parcel of Indian Medicine of to-morrow. 


I have been and am still a student of Western 
Science ; and I feel I owe it more than I can tell. 

I feel also that the more one studies modern Science 
and modern Medicine, the more one begins to 
appreciate the immense value to the world of thought 
generally of the foundational tenets of Indian Medicine 
such, for example, as its views on Matter, on Mind, 
on Prana and on its Thridosha Physiology, Pathology 
and the methods of treatment based thereon and 
on its conception of Health-education and Health- 
culture. It is after such comparative study that one 
feels like adapting to the present topic the well- 
known saying: “Who knows of England who only 
England knows” and saying to oneself “ Who knows 
of Indian Medicine, who only Indian Medicine knows.” 

I am also one of those who believe that it is not by a 


mere accident that Indian Medicine and Western 
Medicine have come into contact with each other, but 
that the contact is part of the plan of that Great 
Power which “sweetly and mightily ordereth all 
things ’ ’ and is designed to achieve the enrichment 
of our Medical and cultural heritage by assimilation 
of the valuable features of Western Medicine and of 
related Western culture, 1 hopefully look forward for a 
day and that, at no distant date, when Indian Medicine 
will not only become self-sufficient in all its eight 
departments as of old but will also so influence the 
world of Medicine generally as to enable others to 
enrich their own Science and serve their own people 
better than they could otherwise do and when the 
existing problem of rival systems would cease and 
there comes into being a Healers' Brotherhood and 
Scientific Union in which the present-day warring ele- 
ments would cease from their quarrellings and meet as 
friends, colleagues and brothers-in-science-and-service. 


As Part of an integrated Whole of which Medical 
Education and Medical Relief are the other Parts 

Medical Research thrives best when it is organized 
as a vital part of one integrated whole of which 


Medical Education and Medical Relief are the other 
equally vital parts. It is also the most efficient method 
for ensuring the best care for our patients and the 
best training for our students. Where work is 
carried on in such a way that the Teachers, Research 
staff, Clinicians and Laboratory workers are research- 
minded all the time and the students are trained for 
a period of not less than four to five years in an 
atmosphere charged with such research-mindedness 
coupled with the most careful, devoted and sympa- 
thetic attention to the sick and suffering, it may well 
be expected that research-mindedness of the right 
type will become a habit — a second nature — with 
them and animate their work for the rest of their 
lives. This much-desired result will be brought about 
more as a matter of unconscious and automatic 
activity than as a conscious and laboured effort at 
every step. It is when such reform is effected that we 
may reasonably expect to find Medical Research in this 
country assuming its proper role, freeing itself from 
the charge levelled against it by the Shore Committee 
when they observed as follows in regard to Medical 
Research — or rather the talk of it — in our Country : — 
'‘In Western Countries, Medical Research is under- 
taken chiefly in the various departments of the 
Universities, Medical Colleges and teaching Hospitals. 


Research is, in fact, an almost universal activity in such 
institutions and is regarded as a normal function. 

Broadly speaking. Medical Research received 
little or no attention in the Medical Colleges of India. 

In his evidence, Prof. A. V. Hill, Secretary 
of the Royal Society, said that in the Medical Colleges 
which he had visited since coming to India, research 
was almost non-existent." Reverting to the same 
topic they again observe ** The outstanding defect 
at the present time is the almost complete absence 
of organised Medical Research in the various depart- 
ments of the Medical Colleges. It is true to say 
that, apart from a few noteworthy exceptions. 
Research in these institutions has been very badly 

Prohibition of Private Practice 

The sine qua non for Medical Research, Medical 
Education and Medical Relief to be so carried out as 
to produce the best results is the implementation of 
one of the vital and fundamental recommendations 
contained in the following observations of the Bhore 
Committee; Whole-time salaried doctors employed 
by the State should be prohibited private practice. 
In our scheme the same doctor will combine in 


himself, at the periphery, curative and preventive health 
functions and it seems almost certain that, without 
the prohibition of private practice, his preventive duties 
will not receive the attention they require. As 
regards medical relief, there was a general agreement 
among those whom we interviewed that prohibition of 
private practice was essential in order to ensure that 
the poor man in the rural areas received equal atten- 
tion with his richer neighbour 


Examples are not wanting even in recent times to 
show how treatment of even new diseases could be 
successfully undertaken by practitioners of Ayurveda 
by the application of those fundamental Principles of 
Treatment that have served them exceedingly well 
throughout the ages. When virulent epidemics like 
plague and influenza first broke out in India some 
years ago, practitioners of Ayurveda were quite equal 
to the task of devising, on the basis of thridoshic 
pharmacology and therapeutics, new remedies which 
proved at least as successful as the remedies then 
devised by any other system of Medicine. Haimadi 
Panakam '' and Shathadoutha Ghritham ", the reme- 
dies devised by the late Vaidyaratna Pt. D. Gopalacharlu 


^or plague, were looked upon as specifics by 
the Public and used by a large number of practi- 
tioners, including Allopathists. Similar was the case 
with his Charaka Vati for influenza. It is not only 
in respect of new diseases that they have devised 
new remedies and methods of treatment. They have 
also realised that even ancient diseases exhibit varia- 
tions in their manifestations, from age to age, and 
country to country, as also in relation to changing 
conditions of individuals and their social and other 
environments. They have gone taking note of all 
these factors as they occurred and adjusted remedies 
and diets appropriate to the changed and changing 
conditions. We have to pick out from the very 
large number of reputed drugs, diets and remedies 
which texts and traditions prescribe for each disease, 
those which are found by Clinical Research to work 
most satisfactorily under conditions of the present 
generation. For Research in these fields, it is neces- 
sary to gather clinical data on a sufficiently large scale 
and check up results. It is desirable that such 
Research into the reputed values of the recipes and 
methods of treatment (including dietetics) followed in 
Indian Medicine is carried on in institutions where 
there are facilities for a hearty co-operation between 
practitioners of Indian and Western Medicine. The 


actual treatment should be left to practitioners of 
Indian Medicine while specially selected Albpathists 
(qualified in Indian Medicine also if available) should 
collaborate as Medical Registrars and maintain careful, 
detailed and accurate records of the Clinical features, 
diagnosis, treatment and daily progress of all cases 
treated in the Clinics and publish the results in such 
language as would enable the followers of Western 
Medicine also to benefit from them, if they wish to. 


Clinical Research will also serve as a valuable 
guide in fixing our programme of Pharmacological 
Research by helping us to pick out, from the large 
number of reputed drugs and remedies which texts 
and traditions prescribe for each disease, just those 
which have been found by Clinical Research to work 
satisfactorily under conditions of the present day and 
to be suitable to the constitution of our present 
generation. Chemical and Pharmacological Research 
may then fruitfully concern itself with such selected 
drugs and recipes instead of working, as is done at 
present, with drugs selected at random from the 
bewilderingly large number of drugs and recipes 
enshrined in texts and traditions in relation to the 


diverse conditions and constitutions of many genera- 
tions that preceded us as well as our own* 


Then, too, there is the wholly unchartered field rich 
in treasures of latro-Chemistry — Bhasmams, Sindu- 
rams, Churnams, Kattu, Khusthai and the like used 
by Ayurvedic, Siddha and Unani Practitioners. Who 
would not like to know, for instance, what it is that 
makes Chandrodayam or Makaradhavajam, the Rasa- 
yanam and Amritam that it is, while its chemical 
equivalent, Sulphide of Mercury does not find even 
a passing mention in our official Allopathic Pharmo- 
copoea ? Chemical, Bio-chemical and Pharmocological 
Research may well start investigations in these wholly 
unchartered and most fascinating fields of enquiry ; 
but, these may not be sufficient to unveil the hidden 
secrets. It may well be that the pharmaceutical 
processes of Indian Medicine effect the transformation 
by bringing about some subtle and as yet mysterious 
changes in the Ultra-Chemical, the atomic or Nuclear 
regions or levels of Modern Physics. If so, it should 
be within the powers of those master-minds of 
Science who have devised wonderful experimental 
methods to explore the hitherto unchartered regions 


of {sluclear Physics and even the course of the elusive 
and mysterious cosmic rays — it should not be difficult 
for such great scientists, to devise methods for reveal- 
ing to us the plans and designs, orientations, lattice 
arrangements etc*, according to which a life-giving 
Rasayanam like Purnachandrodayam is created out of 
such common clay like Sulphide of Mercury and 
incidentally, to give a glimpse, however faint, into the 
mind of The Great Architect of the Universe where, 
according to the belief of many students of our 
Ancient Wisdom, immutable and unalterable Laws 
govern the building up of all kingdoms of Nature 
including the mineral to which Purnachandrodayam 


I also desfre to invite attention to one striking 
feature of Indian Medical studies which has always 
seemed to me to be supremely worth conserving* 
In modern times, there have been discussions in 
academical circles concerning the relative values of 
the study of Humanities and the study of Sciences. 
There is a tendency to envisage these studies as 
though they were ranged in opposite camps and 
fighting each other for supremacy. The ancient Indian 


view has been to look upon these as complementary 
studies to be earnestly pursued by all aiming at 
cultural harmony and fullness. Hence it is that, in 
Indian Medicine, it has always been considered neces- 
sary that the training of the future physician should 
provide not only for the study of Medicine in all its 
branches so as to equip him with the capacity to 
have the proper expert orientation to the problems 
of health and ill-health but also for the study of the 
Humanities, the Classics, as will enable him to have 
the proper humanist-orientation to Life and its Vital 
human problems. In other words, the ancient scheme 
of studies was so ordered as to give to the world 
great physicians who were not only great scientists 
but also great humanists — a type of Physicians v/vidly 
pictured for moderners in the following description 
of '' The Doctor of the Future by a Western 
writer ^Dr. R, W. Wilson : The Physician of the 

future will not, as is now usually assumed, be a 
Scientist of the Orthodox type, a man with the 
technic of Laboratories at his finger ends and with the 
aim in his mind of elucidating the phenomena of 
Life in terms of Chemistry or Physics. Rather, he 
will be a Humanist — a man with the widest possible 
knowledge of human nature and the deepest possible 
understanding of human motives. He will be a 


cultured man, ripe in intellectual attainments, but not 
lacking in emotional sympathy, a lover of the Arts as 
well as a student of the Sciences/' — This is. indeed, 
no more than a projection into the future, of that 
gracious figure of the past — the great Physician who 
was also the great friend, philosopher and guide of 
every one from prince to peasant who sought his 
efficient and loving care and never sought it in 
vain. Such was the gracious physician of the past 
that is gone as will also be the gracious physician of 
the future that is to come — learned in the Science, 
^killed in the Art^free from greed or covetousness, 
kindly and compassionate,^ the man of strong will, 
clean life, and pure heart, whose picture is portrayed 
for us in the following verse in Sanskrit : 


Printed by C. Subbarayudu at the Vasanta Press, 
The Theosophical Society, Adyar, Madras